Who is Alexis Tsipras?

Who is Alexis Tsipras?

Christos Loutradis
One of the leading questions that has dominated the political and media discourse of Greece is: who is Alexis Tsipras? 

Greece’s newly elected prime minister has not given any concrete sign of where he wants to lead the nation or the ongoing negotiations with the European Union and the IMF. Tsipras seems to be trapped in his pre-election rhetoric and the tough reality the nation faces. 

Greece had always problem with acknowledging reality. This was one of the main reasons why they could not, as a society and political system, overcome the pathologies of the crisis and head to a safer and more business-friendly future. This is why you will never hear the sad truth in the public debate. When a government has problems paying salaries and pensions and doesn’t pay the obligations that it has towards their private counterparts, it is a bankrupt state. 

Tsipras seems to have changed his political viewpoint from a radical leftist who had a dream to “change the status quo of Europe” to become a pragmatic politician who is obliged to speak with the global institutions that give money to Greece.

However, nobody understands what Tsipras really wants to do. If the Greek prime minister has politically grown up and has realized that the only way for Greece’s survival is through coming up with a common working formula with the institutions that Greece has participated with for decades, the storyline is tough but known.  

The issue is how Tsipras will move forward implementing a deal with a governing political party that has a strong base of euro-skeptics who flirt with a neo-communistic approach to the world and the global economy. Panayiotis Lafazanis, leader of the Paleolithic leftists of Syriza, is the minister who is in charge of implementing the privatization the Europeans have asked for from Tsipras. A dedicated Marxist, he will be called upon by Tsipras to kill his ideology. If he does it, he will not have reason to exist politically; if he doesn’t do it, he will kill Greece’s ambitions to become a modernized country inside the European Union.

The majority of political analysts do not take into consideration an important fact that will play a major role in the future of Tsipras government: Syriza’s concrete electoral basis is 4 percent. The 36 percent that Tsipras and his political party acquired during the last election is a product of the outrage that the majority of the Greek public felt about the memorandum of austerity that was implemented upon them without taking into account the Greek paradoxes in societal and political terms. The non-ideological decision to vote Syriza may have given the party 36 percent to govern, but it did not give them the opportunity to cultivate long-term political momentum.  

At this point, the 4 percent is trying to make Tsipras surrender to their ideology and not come to terms with the European Union and the International Momentary Fund. Tsipras has proven he is a clever politician that knows how to maneuver. However, it was an easy maneuver to do, as it was inside the political politburo of his leftist political party. International relations and international agreements require more elegant maneuvers, not only for coming into an agreement with the neo-communists of his party, but also for proving to his European counterparts that he will sign something that he can take to the end without a loss of time and political energy.  

The problem is that the European Union is not the same as it was some years ago. Grexit is no longer an Armageddon for them and Tsipras is certainly not the guy who will change the status quo of Europe. So the ball is in his court now. Who will he sign an agreement with, his comrades or his European allies?