Mainstream politicians still have a lot to learn if they want to win the Greek political race. Everything happens for a reason and the differences between how the present government operates and how its predecessors did explain to a great degree why Greece is where it is now.
The government has a public relations/communication plan that it is applying with method and a great deal of nerve. It confidently claims that black is actually white, creates “incidents” in order to deflect the public’s attention from the austerity measures it is implementing and focuses all its efforts on its public image. It has found a way to address citizens outside of the so-called systemic media and often suppresses its rivals in public dialogue by outright bullying, a method it has fine-tuned over the past eight years. The choreography that comes before every major development is well thought out, worthy of an Oscar in direction. However, the other side is also starting to get organized on this front, while the non-professional champions of SYRIZA are becoming less enthusiastic about supporting its positions.
The second thing that defines this government is an element that was missing in the administration of Antonis Samaras and those before it: Disagreements remain behind closed doors. We don’t see MPs airing their grievances on TV talk shows or waylaying ministers in the street to lambast them. The lawmakers of SYRIZA and its coalition partner Independent Greeks are true to their parties. Sure, there are warring factions within the government, disagreements and fights, but these do not overshadow the government’s overall image.
The centrist and conservative blocs have for years suffered from inner strife. The British had to impose a solution in 1944 because they couldn’t work things out among themselves, while their political rivals were gaining ground. Whining and in-party bickering, often adorned in an unconvincing mantle of ideology, was the biggest blight on the Samaras government and others before it.
You also get the feeling with this government – or at least its inner circle – that it has gumption. It appears ready to take on even the most incredible missions without much thought, driven by sheer determination. This is a matter of mentality and it makes all the difference. To begin with, it surprises and scares rivals as it creates a sense that the government is a tightly knit group that shares common goals. This is a rare occurrence in Greek politics.
All of the above does not mean that the present government will live on forever. The mood is shifting and will continue to do so. The crisis has taught us prime ministers are much like logs in a fire: They burn brightly for a while, until they turn to ash.