Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will face off Monday in Parliament with New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the aftermath of last month’s unpopular Eurogroup deal and the garbage collectors’ strike, which was arguably his government’s first serious crisis on the domestic level.
The premier’s task of defending his leftist-led government’s record will be further hampered by disappointing rates of approval, as indicated by recent polls. The latest survey by the University of Macedonia on behalf of Skai TV showed that the popularity of ruling SYRIZA continues to slide, dropping to 15 percent, and lagging behind the main opposition conservatives on 18.5 percent.
With nothing to show, other than the boost the economy will get with summer tourism season, Tsipras has essentially nothing to fall back on, even though his government has tried to cultivate a narrative that the country is slowly getting back on the road to recovery. But the dangers that this narrative may quickly unravel, like so many other before it, are many.
First and foremost, the third review of the country’s third bailout begins in September and this could be a time bomb for Tsipras, as he will be called on to deal with creditors’ demands regarding the public sector.
According to some sources, the International Monetary Fund may want to include streamlining the public sector among its proposed structural reforms, and this will almost certainly target contract workers.
If the government is forced to take action against contract workers it runs the risk of losing the hard core of its support, which mainly comprises civil servants. It will also further damage the government’s credibility as the protector of the public sector, and punch holes in its narrative that a Mitsotakis government would hand over their fate to the private sector.
Furthermore, Tsipras cannot be assured of German assistance after the election there. If anything, there is concern that Berlin may adopt an even tougher stance.