Why the Greeks forgave Tsipras’ pirouettes around austerity and voted again for SYRIZA

Arrival and doorstep statement by Alexis Tsipras the just reelected Prime Minister of Greece, at the Informal meeting of Heads of State or Government, on 23 September 2015, in Brussels. (European Council – Council of the European Union Audiovisual Services, Snapshot from a video footage).

Arrival and doorstep statement by Alexis Tsipras the just reelected Prime Minister of Greece, at the Informal meeting of Heads of State or Government, on 23 September 2015, in Brussels. (European Council – Council of the European Union Audiovisual Services. Snapshot from a video footage).

Last Sunday the Greek voters, at least those who went to the polls, gave to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras not only a second chance to continue in the premiership, but voted also for Panos Kamenos a nationalist right winger, the junior partner of the governing SYRIZA-ANEL coalition. And this as if nothing had happened in the crisis stricken country during the past eight tormenting months. The result of the 20 September legislative elections surpassed even the most optimistic predictions for the SYRIZA backing. A number of SYRIZA prominent members commented that the outcome was beyond their expectations.

This party won 145 seats and the ANEL elected 10 deputies, thus forming a rather comfortable majority of 155 in a Parliament of 300. The major opposition party, New Democracy, under its interim President Evagelos Meimarakis elected 75 deputies. Unfortunately, the third largest Parliamentary group is formed by 18 deputies of Golden Down, an extremist write wing – almost fascist group, currently under trial in the Court of Appeal accused of being a ‘criminal organization’. An alliance of the socialist PASOK and DIMAR (Democratic Left) won 17 seats and reached the fourth position.

Why SYRIZA chooses ANEL

In total eight parties crossed the 3% threshold and entered the Parliament. The communist, if not Stalinist, KKE elected 15 deputies, POTAMI (the river) a personal affair of a TV persona won 11 seats and a real harlequin, Vassilis Leventis, and his Union of Centrists managed to win 9 seats. As noted above, ANEL, the junior deputy in the governing coalition of SYRIZA-ANEL elected 10 deputies. This is an awkward partnership though. Their connecting material is rather difficult to identify but in many respects it represents the secret recipe of their new win. To be reminded that this alliance governed Greece after the 25 January election until Thursday 20 August this year.

On that day Tsipras resigned, as the one-third of his SYRIZA comrades abandoned the party and formed a new one, the ‘Popular Unity” opposing the agreement with the EU. They fought hard to enter the Parliament as an anti-austerity independent party, but last Sunday the voters denied them this prospect. As everybody knows, Tsipras made a full U-turn in the strategy for the economy and all of a sudden he accepted for his country at the end of July a third bailout and austerity program, as the creditors demanded. The immediate result was the break up of SYRIZA. Until then he and his SYRIZA party had waged a long fight against the EU’s firmness to impose two programs of devastating austerity (2010-2012 and 2012-2014) on Greece. Those programs caused an unbelievable recession. Greece has lost by now one-quarter of its GDP, while unemployment skyrocketed from single digits to 26%.

From denouncement to capitulation

SYRIZA and personally Tsipras using a strongly denunciative rhetoric were catapulted to power in a short period. From a marginal 4.5% of the vote in 2009 Tsipras got a 36% winning position in the January 2015 election. Kamenos followed the same path but starting from the other, the right part of the political spectrum. He left the center right New Democracy party in 2012, when the party’s then leader Antonis Samaras made a similar U-turn like Tsipras this summer. At that time Samaras signed the second austerity program (2012-2014) after winning the June 2012 election, abandoning his anti-austerity rhetoric.

This summer though Kamenos didn’t quit his partner Tsipras, although this last one performed the same political pirouette vis-à-vis the creditors’ demands as Samaras did in 2012. It’s not only Kamenos though who didn’t dump Tsipras. The Greek voters never abandoned him. Last Sunday they supported Tsipras choice to sign an austerity program and reinstituted him in government together with Kamenos.

Why forgive Tsipras?

There are two reasons for this. The most important one is that the Greeks were finally convinced that it’s impossible to stay in the Eurozone and of course in the EU, without the required sacrifices. Invariably all opinion polls turn out a pro-euro result of at least 70% but at the same time the majority of people rejected the needed structural reforms. This antithesis was eventually resolved last Sunday. The vast majority of Greeks accepted both. Of course this was the hard way to do it, but now all the major political parties (SYRIZA, New Democracy, PASOK-DIMAR, Potami, ANEL) support the Eurozone way for Greece. Only the communist party KKE and the fascist New Dawn reject a European path for the country.

What about reforms?

Unfortunately, all along the past crucial five years the Greek political elite including Samaras and Tsipras preferred to ride on the natural public detest for austerity, just to gain short-lived political prominence. They both refrained from telling people the truth and didn’t cooperate between them to bring about the badly needed reforms in the country. Consequently, the cost to do so now has skyrocketed and the Greek sovereign debt is predicted to break all previous records. The new, third program that Tsipras just agreed with the creditors this summer includes new loans of €86 billion, to be used mainly to pay off previous debts and also recapitalize the banks.

The new and the old

The second reason why the voters again backed the SYRIZA-ANEL governing alliance is that they represent a new political force, quite different from the New Democracy and PASOK traditional parties. Those last two political blocks are widely held responsible for leading the country to its 2010 financial stalemate. They have been alternating in government for at least forty years until January 2015. It’s not only that though. All along this long period the country was stricken by continuous reports, revelations, confessions and judicial prosecutions for corruption in the state and government. A careful observer has to add to that the blatant maladministration and the catastrophic bureaucracy.

Public contracts, military purchases, the tax administration, the licensing and control structures for business starts and controls, everything has have been notoriously stricken by corruption. Reports about kickbacks pocketed by politicians and high-ranking public servants are a daily topic for the Press. In reality the entire Greek public administration and to a large extend the judiciary system function for their own sake. They can torment citizens and businesses by either demanding kickbacks or just being lazy, indifferent and incompetent. All this is charged to PASOK and to a lesser degree to New Democracy.

Corruption is the issue

In conclusion, last Sunday the voters obviously pardoned Tsipras’ costly pirouettes around austerity, just because he is not PASOK or New Democracy. The same is true for Kamenos. In any case, New Democracy proved sturdier than PASOK and its appeal seems to have bottomed at 27%. As for PASOK nowadays they seem happy with the 6.3% received last Sunday.

As things stand today the SYRIZA-ANEL government’s main political capital is tightly connected to their promise to address corruption and the clientele political system head on, and reform the public service. If they don’t deliver on these accounts they will soon lose the public support and their Parliamentary majority may be thinned down by protesting or even dissenting deputies.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

We can feed the world in a sustainable way, but we need to act now

European Youth Forum demands immediate action & binding agreement on climate change

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

Trump’s Syrian hit the softest option vis-a-vis Russia

Doctors are humans too: the benefits of embracing your mental status

Greece lost a month that cannot be found neither in “mini Summits” nor in Berlin

5 ways for business leaders to win in the 2020s

Commission calls on Leaders to pave the way for an agreement on a modern, balanced and fair EU budget for the future

What the next 20 years will mean for jobs – and how to prepare

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum 2019 concluded, in association with The European Sting

COP21 Breaking News_08 December: Cities & Regions Launch Major Five-Year Vision to Take Action on Climate Change

Trump systematically upsets global order and trade: Where does this end?

Give a chance to the brothers of Ailan: reception of refugees in Greece

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

Mental health in medical students: the deciphered quandary

Do we have to choose between creating jobs and protecting the climate?

Breaking news on European Youth Employment: European Youth Forum Guide tackles poor quality internships!

They won this year’s Nobel for economics. Here’s why their work matters

Eurozone: Disinflation engulfs the industrial goods sector

‘Many challenges to overcome’ at UN, in fight against abuse: victims’ advocate

Be a part of the World Forum on Future Trends in Defence and Security

Consumer protection: Deal on EU-wide rules for those sold faulty products

EU adopts retaliative measures in response to US steel and aluminum tariffs

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Brain Drain remains a crucial and unresolved issue

Anti-vaccination: a private choice leading to collective outcomes

‘Worst devastation I have seen,’ says UN refugee envoy Angelina Jolie, as she visits West Mosul

How Germany strives to mold ECB’s monetary policy to her interests

MWC 2016 LIVE: Stripe gives payments leg-up to startups in emerging markets

Nokia wins Commission’s approval for Alcatel-Lucent acquisition: a new way for antitrust cases?

Texting is a daily source of stress for 1/3 of people – are you one of them?

To all far-right partisans who exploit Charlie Hebdo atrocity: a peaceful reply given by a peaceful student

China-EU Relations: Broader, Higher and Stronger

Who should be responsible for protecting our personal data?

On youth unemployment: unemployment is even bleaker for youth with disabilities

CO2 emissions on the rise for first time in four years, UN agency warns

GSMA Announces Speakers for Mobile 360 – Russia & CIS 2018

Healing of ozone layer gives hope for climate action: UN report

This is what happens when a school swaps french fries for quinoa

The two big uncertainties shaping our future

The European Brain Drain: hard facts and harder truths

EU adopts rebalancing measures in reaction to US steel and aluminium tariffs

Eurozone: Retail sales betray economic frailty

The vehicles of our future

This is how travel hotspots are fighting back against overtourism

A European student just sets the question of the day: What kind of education policies are missing in Europe?

Eurozone: The crisis hit countries are again subsidizing the German and French banks

Yemen talks: Truce agreed over key port city of Hudaydah

Romanian Presidency priorities discussed in committees

Human traffickers in Libya are posing as UN staff, says Refugee Agency

This project in India helps people and tigers co-exist peacefully

Humanitarian Aid 2016: The needs, the highlights, the crisis and the relief

EU27 leaders unite on Brexit Guidelines ahead of “tough negotiations” with Theresa May

Remembering Kofi Annan

Sudan: UN rights chief alarmed over ‘excessive force’, alleged use of live fire against protestors

Why Europe’s high productive performance is discredited?

The AI moment: preparing for the revolution

Islamophobia is driving more US Muslims to become politically engaged, suggests report

YO!Fest back in Strasbourg for the 2nd edition of the European Youth Event – 20-21 May 2016

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s