Ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next week, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has embarked on what appears to be a campaign to promote the narrative that his beleaguered leftist-led coalition is actually reform-minded and has a business-friendly agenda.
Given his government’s deteriorating popularity – linked to tax hikes, spending cuts and a sense that he has betrayed his party’s leftist principles – Tsipras is eager to push the reset button and turn the tide of discontent, beginning with the Thessaloniki Trade Fair.
But plugging what he describes as his government’s business-friendly credentials within a socially minded framework is a hard sell given that members of his cabinet and ruling SYRIZA have shown themselves to be averse to big investment.
Many viewed the prime minister’s visit to the Papastratos tobacco plant in Aspropyrgos outside Athens earlier this week as part of an attempt to give his coalition a business-friendly profile.
Papastratos is one of the few companies in Greece that have both survived the financial crisis and managed to invest and create new jobs, and it seems Tsipras is eager to shake off accusations that SYRIZA is against investment by trying to link his government with such success stories, which he claims have been a vote of confidence in the Greek economy.
Moreover, in a bid to drive home the point that his government is progressive and reform-minded, he also made an appearance at an event organized by the Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction to showcase its three-year program to reform and streamline the country’s ineffectual public sector.
However, while at the event, Tsipras promised to make hirings in the public sector, demonstrating again the difficulty his government has in shaking old habits – namely offering public sector jobs to appeal to his disillusioned leftist base.
He also paid a visit Thursday to the workspace of Impact Hub Athens, where socially driven professionals gather to work and network, to show his support for socially minded innovative business activity. .
“The Impact Hub for entrepreneurship aims at social rewards and collaboration and not just profit,” he tweeted Thursday.
He also announced the activation in October of a fund which will help such businesses with an initial budget of 25 million euros.