Opposition New Democracy appears troubled by Kathimerini’s interview on Sunday with Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem after the head of the eurozone’s finance ministers commended the work being done by the leftist-led government of Alexis Tsipras and advised that Greece should hold off elections until the current administration’s term ends in 2019, rather than have them right now, as the conservatives have been demanding.
But to put things into perspective, the European establishment – political leaders and the Commission – had nothing but praise for the daring and determination of former prime minister George Papandreou when the PASOK chief signed the first bailout deal with international creditors, or for former New Democracy president Antonis Samaras after he changed his tune when becoming premier and signed the second memorandum.
Such praise did little good to either, of course, as both premiers instantly lost Europe’s support as soon as they acted on their own initiative: Papandreou was overthrown by cadres within his own party and Samaras was completely isolated by the European system when he did not wrap up the review on time in the spring of 2014.
The practical conclusion that can be drawn for the people who govern Greece is therefore none other than what the country’s first governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias, said back in 1828: that no one would oppose a leader who had the support of Europe. He who is in harmony with the establishment enjoys its support and stays in power; he who defies it is banished.
The European system is indifferent to ideological proclivities so far as they do not affect the implementation of the program, is what Dijsselbloem was saying. The ideological battle will, of course, continue on the domestic stage with increased force as this is the only means that our leaders have to attract voters. Therefore, the only thing that’s at issue is the mix, even though the dosage of austerity is always prescribed by the institutions. And these will always be here in one shape or another, resulting in a more moderate expression of the ruling ideological class. This is where Tsipras has been heading for some time now.
Greece’s political leaders – with the exception of the two extremes – have embraced compromise and the citizens who rally around them, who praise them, are all too aware that their promises and rhetoric are empty. That said, this is exactly how politicians have always survived – occasionally even doing great things.