European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Monday that Greece has had to go through tougher austerity than would otherwise have been required because of the populist stance of the left-wing SYRIZA government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
“Populism doesn’t solve problems. Populism creates problems,” said Dombrovskis during a round-table discussion in Riga focused on the growing support for populist parties in EU member states. “We could see that in the classic example of Greece. A new government came with a populist stance – that we didn’t need any austerity regimes – we will spend as much as we want. And, in fact, Greece now implements tougher austerity measures than it would have been necessary if the reforms of the previous government were continued at the time.”
Instead, new loans were frozen and Greece defaulted on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July 2015 rendering capital controls necessary so that its banking system would not collapse. Dombrovskis pointed the finger at the Tsipras government for leading Greece back into a recession instead of accelerating growth that had been forecast had reforms been continued.