Tsipras vs Tsipras
Christos LoutradisOne of the most common journalistic clichés seen in Greek and international media is that “Greece is at a turning point” and “on the brink of collapse.” The most interesting aspect of this journalistic monotony is that it is true and false at the same time.
In terms of real economy, Greece has collapsed. According to statistics that were published by Greek media last week, 10 companies close every day in Greece. In addition, a majority of the companies are in bankruptcy without being able to conduct even the most simple day-to-day business procedures. At the same time, the state is, unofficially, bankrupt. When a state cannot compensate the companies who cooperate with public companies and institutions, not because they don’t want to but because they cannot, it is a confession of a bankrupt nation.
At the same time, a big part of Greek society seems to not be affected by the dramatic events that are taking place, almost on a daily basis. According to the polls, almost 50% of the general population support Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ negotiation tactics. However, when they are asked if they support an exit of Greece from the eurozone, only 18% support this alternative.
This paranoia is not new in Greece’s socio-political spectrum. Tsipras is a successful prime minister for the austerity-affected Greece. He is a successful prime minister because he combines a notion of the pseudo-macho Greek that fights with the “world’s tyrants” such as Germany and other international institutions, at the same time that he flirts with the most low-level instincts of Greek society, However, Tsipras knows better than anybody that the Greeks enjoy being the bad guys on the block under one prerequisite: having money. If they don’t have money, then the pseudo-macho attitude has no practical use.
This is the point where Tsipras and his hermaphrodite government will have a problem. If they do not succeed in signing a long-standing deal with Greece’s creditors, which will enable the Greek economy to formulate a productive dynamism, his political momentum will collapse in days and the charismatic 40-year-old Greek leader of the confused leftists will have to confront his political megalomaniac discourse before and after the elections.
Tsipras is a clever politician. He knows better than anyone that when he and his government sign the new memorandum with the international institutions his political countdown will start. The Greek prime minister will have to implement measures that are not only against his pre-election rhetoric but against his personal political ethics. Privatizations, tax increases for the middle class and the continuation of the property tax without exemptions for the low class property owners will be the start of his political abyss. If he tries to implement it, he will have to deal with the neo-communist part of Syriza and his government. If he does not try to implement it, Greece will start its journey to exit the eurozone, a journey that will be tough, with financial and mainly societal implications.
It is obvious that Tsipras is trapped in his political philosophy and the tough reality that he has to deal with. As a strong believer in his political cleverness, I believe that he will choose to find a compromise with Greece’s creditors. But cleverness is always a loser with it fights with ideological stubbornness. And this worries me more.