Can we become a normal country? On paper, it appears the practical answer to this would be yes, of course we can. Greece does not have very pressing financial obligations between now and 2019. Grexit has been consigned to the closet of history. Europeans do not want any more Greek problems and are in a rush to promote us, despite the small issue that we are not entirely up to speed yet with our obligations.
Global capital is looking for fertile ground to take root in and it is turning its eyes toward Greece, which at the moment is quite cheap. The markets are starting to see that, politically, it would be difficult for the country to be derailed as it was in 2015.
But they do not believe Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is a politician that can shock the economy into growth. Sure, when he speaks to them, and he does so frequently, he shows that he has learned their language. However, when he is governing, he doesn’t appear to understand what needs to change in our country in order for it to regain its credibility. Either that or he does not have the political courage to impose it on his comrades.
But they are thinking practically. They are following the public opinion polls and believe it certain based on those polls that New Democracy will win the next elections, and win with an agenda that is much more pro-European and pro-business than theirs. They of course have their reservations as to whether their leader will be able to control the “old guard” within his party, but that will be judged much later.
It is in everyone’s interest for the country to return to normality. It is in Tsipras’s because he needs to have in his mind a narrative that can yield him positive results. It can be assumed that he, like his predecessors, believes that the recovery will come, unemployment will fall and that will result in a critical bloc of voters returning to his fold.
It is in New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s interest too, because he does not want to inherit a mess so bad that he’ll have to deal with another round of bank recapitalizations or pension reforms as soon as he gets into office. Today’s government has borne the brunt of the political cost when it comes to austerity. A normal country, however, needs proper public administration, justice, education and domestic security. They may be able to temporarily raise the stock market, but long-term investors need to know that they’re putting their money into a truly well-functioning, European country.
The prime minister either does not understand this or cannot, because it will anger his clients and his partisan hardliners.