Greece is an openly insane country. The Greek people elected their first leftist government based on promises that included tearing up the bailout deal, putting an end to the country’s fire sale and a spectacular debt haircut. The same government is now cheering following the approval in Parliament – at no political loss – of a multi-bill which essentially overturns all of its core promises. The leftist-led government has proven to be the tough guy because it succeeded in passing the toughest bailout to date.
Meanwhile, the opposition likens Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Britain’s Margaret Thatcher. In other words, the right is blaming the left for leaning toward the right.
No doubt all of this seems utterly colorful to the country’s partners and lenders who have been treating Greece as a “special case” for the last six years.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to the conclusion that the Greek people and the country’s political system operate in their own particular manner. She managed to tame Tsipras, Europe’s first “naughty child.” She did so in an admirable way, which will go down in political science publications as an example to follow.
Outside of Greece, no one cares anymore whether the country is governed by the right or the left. They just want to get on with their business.
The opposition stands to lose in its attempt to appear more left-wing than the government. By doing so it falls into the same trap it has repeatedly fallen into in the past, that of playing the populist game.
There is plenty of room for constructive opposition and criticism regarding taxes, contributions, a clientelism perception of the state and so on. It’s ludicrous for New Democracy to criticize the administration for being “liberal.” Obviously the prime minister’s complete and spectacular about-face offers endless material for satire, social media commentary and conversation at local cafes. But it could lead ND to repeat the mistakes of the party’s anti-bailout period.
The current administration has entered a one-way street. It cannot make another U-turn, even if it wanted to. Things that should have been done, irrespective of who’s in charge, will be done, though at a cost. Political time in the bailouts era is running at a vertiginous speed and the beast keeps “swallowing” prime ministers and administrations. A leftist government is carrying out the most right-wing policies anyone could imagine, overturning the entire post-dictatorship pattern. History is moving along, albeit in an insane manner. But it is moving on and that is what matters most.