With relations between Greece and its European neighbors at an all-time low, and the country’s politicians appearing increasingly defiant in the face of criticism, analysts are questioning whether Greece actually wants to get kicked out of the single currency.
Encounters between Greece and the euro zone have become increasingly acrimonious over the last few weeks, as Greece’s commitment to its bailout program and reforms has been questioned. Greece was granted a four-month extension to its aid program in February, but there are concerns over the pace of reforms implemented by the government.
Richard Lewis, fund manager at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, told CNBC he believed that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wanted a Greek exit from the euro zone.
“My personal view is that the Greek politicians are angling to get kicked out of the euro” he told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday, adding that it would be “entirely rational” for the country to want a so-called “Grexit” given its economic situation.
However, he highlighted that in order to get his Syriza party elected, Tsipras had to campaign on staying part of the single-currency region.
“If they want to leave the euro, which is rational to want to do so, they have to get kicked out. It would involve turmoil, but the alternative is death by a thousand cuts,” he said, referring to Greece’s austerity drive that has been pushed by Greece’s creditors.
Relations between Greece and Europe continued on their low ebb Wednesday when Greece voted on an anti-poverty bill in parliament on Wednesday.
An EU official reportedly wrote to Greece urging more talks with lenders before voting on the bill, saying that “proceeding unilaterally” risked the terms of its four-month bailout extension granted in February, Reuters reported. Tsipras hit back, saying that it was the euro zone that had to stop “unilateral actions” and keep its word.
The spat is the latest in a string of sour comments between Greece and its international creditors, most notably Germany, the largest euro zone economy and biggest contributor to Greece’s two bailouts, worth 240 billion euros ($252 billion).
As European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday, Greece is expected to be high on the agenda.
Tsipras has asked for a meeting with top European policymakers, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi, French President Francois Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the sidelines of the summit.
Speculation has mounted over the content of that meeting, but it is likely to include Greece’s funding needs, as it has several impending loan repayments to its international creditors such as the International Monetary Fund.
Return to the drachma?
The tensions have led to growing conjecture that Greece could leave the euro zone and could return to its former currency, the drachma. Last month, Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research, told CNBC that a return to the drachma was the “only possibility” for Greece to revitalize its economy.
If a Grexit did take place, however, there are concerns that it could encourage other countries to do the same, potentially threatening the future of the euro zone project as a whole.
Depsite this, Nick Carn, founder of Carn Macro Advisors, said he believed there was a growing feeling that the euro zone could cope with a Greek exit.
“Where Syriza started was with the idea that Germany will always pay in the end, which is what has informed most people’s attitude to euro land — and I think it looks like we’re running up against the end of that,” he told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box.”
“The appetite (in Germany) for Greeks to agree one thing and then renege on it a few weeks later just isn’t there.”
A poll released this week by youGov.de in Germany showed that the majority of Germans now want Greece to leave the euro zone, with the number in favor rising from 48 to 59 percent over the last month.