One word alone turns the leader of any opposition into a serious contender for power. The term is “election” and it was uttered on Tuesday night in the Greek Parliament by New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis. It seems that the fact the Greek electorate was called to vote three times in the last 15 months was not enough. Greece could end up at the ballot boxes for a fourth time, while the frequency of local voting could eventually rival that of Switzerland.
On the eve of Tuesday’s House debate, Mitsotakis had voiced a proposal in favor of securing “stable election cycles” so as to limit reasons for calling snap elections. Evidently he meant for this to take place after a review of the country’s constitution.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s appearance held no surprises. True to his transformation from a Bolshevik-style leader of European dimensions into a streamlined partner of the European establishment, the premier tabled copies of the Government Gazette featuring legislation by the government of his predecessor, Antonis Samaras. The material presented, he argued, pointed to government intervention in justice aimed at servicing vested interests. While it is doubtful whether the aforementioned legislation could be amended in any way, on a political level and in view of the Greek bailout review by the country’s lenders, creating tension and raising the issue of the previous administration’s accountability is a kind of obligatory “blood on the arena” which must be spilled to compensate for new measures of pauperization. Those familiar – even on a superficial level – with politics were expecting this kind of behavior.
The only points in Tsipras’s speeches and interventions that were of any political significance were the encouragement and full support for judges investigating cases of corruption, as well as the kudos given to police forces which recently uncovered an extortion ring.
Every government relies on the state mechanism in order to implement its policy; anything beyond that is for appearances only.
Tuesday’s debate had strong class flair – something which serves the PM’s purposes – while Mitsotakis contributed in this direction through his own temperament – besides he has no connection to the populist right. The result was a political paradox: Besides SYRIZA, right-wing populists Independent Greeks and ultra-right Golden Dawn also turned against Samaras’s ND and PASOK under the tenure of Evangelos Venizelos, at times even more aggressively that the radical left.
The ideological differences which used to preside in politics were put aside and the attacks by the leaders of all three parties focused on the political and economic establishment which grew during the governments of Costas Simitis. This is a new kind of division, quiet different from those which used to plague the country in the past.