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(From our man in Athens) Evzones Economics ... crash, bang, whallop!

Anyone who has been to Athens will be familiar with the Evzones - the honour guards who stand at the grave of the Unknown Soldier on Syntagma Sq. They are best known for their traditional costume including some rather silly looking bobbled shoes.

Yet, you might want to suppress that snigger. 

Made of 3kgs of wood apiece and studded with 60 steel hobnails each, those shoes were used as a backup weapon during the Greek War of Independence and would regularly bash in a stray Ottoman skull.

So, woe betide you if you are stupid enough to get in the way of an Evzone during the changing of the guard. Rules permit them to kick their way thru any obstacle to ensure a path is kept clear. I have seen them at a steady march – and they are not for turning.

Which brings me to my cue.

Yesterday, I chatted with a student activist at a stand set up by Syriza (the coalition of the radical left) to explain their manifesto to the public.

You will be familiar with Syriza due to their charismatic 37 year old leader - Alexis Tsipras – and to the fact that they came 2nd in the recent elections and look set to win the rerun on June 17th.

The student I spoke to gave a clear outline of the Syriza agenda if elected, which may be summed up in Evzone-like terms:

Syriza will crash thru German, ECB & IMF objections & reverse the previous government’s bailout agreement in order to clear a path (as they see it) to recovery ... whilst bashing in a few bankers' skulls along the way.

Their gamble is that even though this means they will no longer be entitled to ECB/IMF funding, the rest of Europe (read Germany) has more to lose by letting Greece fail – so the funds will keep coming.

The key word here is “gamble”.

The activist I spoke to admitted it is a risk, but one that it is wholeheartedly believed will pay off.

When I asked what happens if Merkel decides “To hell with it, you are on your own”, the clarity of Syriza’s thinking seems to muddy somewhat. They perceive it as such a low risk, that a Plan B is not really needed - other than some ideas about diverting saved debt payments to public wages & pensions, etc.

Fanciful?

Well, it is easy to be hard on Greece from far away. Not so easy up close. Greeks freely acknowledge their mistakes and can see that whatever happens, many hard years lie ahead.

Agree with it or not, Syriza’s come-what-may approach is admirable for its boldness.

But keep this is mind, today as I watched the Evzones parade past the famous Benaki museum on their way to barracks, the last guard slipped & stumbled on the polished concrete. He was sent crashing to the ground and he had to be helped up by the assistant who goes with them everywhere.

So, for all our sakes’, I wish Syriza a steady & secure stride should they find themselves in office come June 18th.

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