‘There could be a Lehmans moment!’ – World Bank warning

Local government workers in Athens demonstrating against austerity
Local government workers in Athens demonstrating against austerity

AS GREEK workers went to the polls yesterday, bourgeois commentators were warning of a ‘widespread contagion’ or even an ‘asteroid strike’ of an economic catastrophe across the globe if voters refuse to back the EU.

The election of a Syriza government would lead to a Greek exit from the euro and spark a worldwide banking crash, outgoing World Bank president Robert Zoellick said.

He warned: ‘There could be a Lehmans moment if this is not handled properly.’

Before the poll took place, the Left coalition Syriza was said to be running neck-and-neck with the right-wing New Democracy party.

Syriza says the EU must renegotiate the EU-IMF Accord on austerity that was agreed in return for a Greek bailout.

Rival right-wing New Democracy wants to stick with the Accord.

Surrounded by cameras at an Athens polling station, Syriza leader Alex Tsipras said: ‘We have beaten fear.

‘Today we are opening the gates to hope and a better tomorrow, with our people united, dignified and an equal partner in a Europe which is changing.

‘We are optimistic the future belongs to the bearers of hope.’

Tensions were high in Greece with riot police on the streets and reports of two hand grenades being thrown at a radio station.

One Greek woman burst in on a live Sky News interview yelling ‘Merkel is a female Hitler, she is trying to destroy all of Europe but we will win’ before being dragged away.

Former Greek prime minister Papandreou told the Andrew Marr Show yesterday: ‘Leaving the euro would be catastrophic for Greece.

‘There would be a bank run … we are still a high-import country, we depend on oil, for example.

‘Also, we will have deep cuts and at the same time there will be most likely a cut in our GDP growth by 20pc, so this will be a major catastrophe that will have not only social but political consequences, which I believe will make it much more difficult for Greece to reform.’

Former Greek finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday’s election was a ‘referendum about the euro’.

Speaking on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted during a conference of her CDU party that ‘it is so important that, in the Greek election tomorrow … a result emerges in which those who form a government in future tell us, yes, we want to keep to the agreements.’

France began voting in a parliamentary run-off yesterday morning that is expected to give President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party a majority and bolster his position in legislative battles over eurozone crisis policy.

Merkel held a telephone conversation with Hollande on Saturday, in which the two leaders discussed the Greek elections.

The head of the group of eurozone finance ministers, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, suggested a win for Syriza could have widespread implications.

He said: ‘If the radical left wins, which cannot be ruled out, the consequences for the currency union are unforeseeable.’

Fearful of the social consequences here in the UK, the Treasury and the Bank of England have been conducting austerity war games in preparation for a eurozone meltdown.