In order to answer the question “What will Greece look like two years from now?” it is not enough to guess what type of government will be in place. It is also important to know what sort of opposition will be facing that government.
Will the next government be pitted against a Tsipras of the pre-2015 years, when his SYRIZA party only just cleared the 3 percent threshold ensuring parliamentary representation? Or a Tsipras who will by then have turned into a radical social-democrat, as many European observers appear to believe? Or – a third possibility – a Tsipras who will follow an a-la-carte approach depending on the circumstances?
I think the safest bet is that Tsipras will switch to an a-la-carte or anything-goes mode. The leftist premier has proved unscrupulous when it comes to political maneuvering. He does not hesitate to adopt any policy line that serves his political ends.
The SYRIZA-Independent Greeks (ANEL) coalition managed to impose several tough measures without generating any serious resistance because there wasn’t a SYRIZA-like opposition to stop it. The governments of New Democracy and reformist PASOK were too afraid to introduce reforms because of opposition on the streets and accusations of selling out and betrayal.
Privatizations, relations with the United States and Israel, and the deal with China’s Cosco are only a few examples of this. The truth is that as we get closer to the next election, the leftist prime minister will try to style himself internationally as a decisive leader.
Inside Greece, however, everything has come to a halt. The government’s most reactionary faction has gotten the upper hand, blocking any meaningful reform. Nothing that could push the country in a forward direction will happen until after the elections. Tsipras has given all he had to give.
The question is whether Tsipras will reach for the megaphone once he is out of Maximos Mansion. Will he take to the streets to protest the project at the old Athens airport in Elliniko or Cosco’s expansion in Piraeus and other projects that he has backed, but not seen through, as prime minister?
Will he switch back to his old ways of Germany- and US-bashing? And, most important, will he manage to get the people with him, along with a new generation of hardline union leaders?
Or will that make him look like a veteran actor trying in vain to repeat an old role?
Greece has paid the price of Tsipras’s pre-2015 opposition tactics. The worst possible scenario would be to see a repeat of the old Tsipras in the opposition matched against a government that is too scared to break any eggs.