The Greeks have deactivated the nuclear switch that threatened to blow Europe sky high -- taking along with it the monetary union, and, therefore, the most ambitious democracy deepening project of the European Union. The victory of Antonis Samaras's New Democracy party does not in and of itself solve Athens' problems, nor those plaguing the rest of Europe's capitals; the boxer is still on the ropes, but the bell has been rung -- and that gives Europe time to recover, though it will have to keep fighting.
In addition, if seen as part and parcel of what happened in Greece, the result of France's legislative elections and the majority that President Hollande now boasts both act as a serious warning to Angela Merkel. The message is clear: we are willing to go forward, but the pernicious austerity strategy that is pushing us into the abyss must be reconsidered.
For Spain, the result of both of these turns at the ballot box is good. First, because a victory in Greece of SYRIZA's left-wing, and its increasingly unrealistic calls to exit the eurozone, would have put us next on the list, intensifying pressure on markets that are already becoming more and more irrational each day. Second, because, ideological differences aside, the absolute majority that the Socialists and their allies achieved in France has turned Hollande into an unprecedented partner for Spain, one now strong enough that Rajoy's government should be able to make Chancellor Merkel understand that a different policy is possible.
As soon as the final tallies were counted in Greece, Germany, via the foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, hastened to confirm that discussing flexibility in loan terms was a possibility -- as long as Greece fulfilled its austerity obligations; it's a message that Greek conservatives well deserve after committing themselves to the Memorandum of Understanding imposed by the troika. On top of all this, there's Mario Draghi's announcement on Friday that, as of Monday, the Central Bank of Europe over which he presides would have filled its coffers with euros destined for injection into banks needing liquidity. And so the echo we're now hearing is that of an orchestra beginning to play in tune, rather than the bedlam of recent weeks.
Let us hope that the G-20 countries, which have been meeting in Mexico since Monday -- and whose help and support are now more necessary than ever -- see it like this. As for Spain, it can look forward to another week of vertigo, during which we will finally hear the verdict of the consultants who have been evaluating the capital needs of Spanish banks. Whether that amount turns out to be 40 billion euros, as the IMF anticipated, or 60 billion euros, as the sector itself calculates, its impact will be tempered if the bailout brings an end to the mood of collective hysteria that was beginning to spread across the Old Continent.
Europe has always had a great dramatic sensibility, possibly a product of our Greek roots. Let us trust that, once again, skirting tragedy will give us the impulse necessary to get out of this marasmus.
This post was published in Spanish on El Huffington Post.
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