You reap what you sow, says the old adage. In the case of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, he chose to partner up with Independent Greeks (ANEL) chief Panos Kammenos for a second time after the big volte-face in the third bailout agreement in the mistaken belief that their joint demagoguery against the “old parties” would attract voters from PASOK and New Democracy.
He painted himself into a corner. In order to win back the trust of creditors after the crazy negotiations of 2015 he was forced to follow the stringent commands of the memorandum to the letter. Then, whenever he tried to show a more progressive face (like on civil partnerships, citizenship for second-generation migrants and overtures to Ankara), he came up against an ANEL wall and was forced to justify his governing partner’s extreme positions and nationalist outbreaks.
Nikos Kotzias’s resignation was the epitome of Tsipras’s bizarre state of captivity, coming in the wake of efforts by Kammenos, who is also defense minister, to throw mud at the foreign minister by insinuating fund mismanagement and dodgy ties with billionaire George Soros.
Fearing a government collapse, Tsipras threw his foreign minister under the bus and went as far as to claim that he accepted Kotzias’s resignation because he will not tolerate “two-faced” behavior from anyone in government ranks or “personal strategies” being put above the national policy line.
The only problem with the premier’s statement is that Kotzias is not the one accused of being two-faced and self-serving; Kammenos is, especially after his recent visit to Washington, where he presented his own alternative plan for the name deal with Skopje as being the government’s.
Tsipras’s behavior toward Kotzias and his support of Kammenos has sent shock waves through the coalition that are deepening the cracks in what is looking increasingly like a sinking government. Even the creditors who piled praise on Tsipras for passing some of the toughest measures Greece has seen without any trouble whatsoever are becoming aware of his shortcomings and paying close attention to his flagging popularity in public opinion polls.
They may even go as far as breaking promises such as the possible suspension of planned pension cuts. In cases like these, they usually like to hold onto these small gifts so they can give them to the next government.