In September 2015, Alexis Tsipras took an inevitable albeit politically honest step. After making a mess of negotiations with the country’s foreign lenders, which cost Greece dearly, he called another election after having risen to power just months earlier.
The leftist leader wanted a fresh mandate to legitimize his own U-turn and implement the tough bailout agreement which he signed up to. Dazed and angry, Greek voters renewed his mandate, giving Tsipras a second opportunity.
We have now reached a point where he must do the same. Voters gave Tsipras a mandate, which did not however foresee that he would govern with the most arbitrary, heterogeneous and nontransparent majority in Greece’s recent political history. The prime minister has supposedly accomplished his goal, which was Greece’s exit from the memorandums, and, after that, the distribution of the social dividend by means of handouts and regulations.
Tsipras no longer has a clear political credo. In previous years he ruled in a tight embrace with Independent Greeks (ANEL) chief Panos Kammenos, turning a blind eye to his erratic behavior. Now it turns out that this political hybrid was the product of a teratogenesis that will certainly generate horror stories for some time to come.
People naturally question who the real Tsipras was: Was he the partner of Kammenos or a political leader that aims to express the new center-left? The frustration and confusion eased inhibitions and undermined voters’ judgment in 2015. These days they are much harder to deceive.
Tsipras now has the freedom to choose. He can call an early election, keeping an eye fixed on the day after. After all he is still young and it is quite possible that he will again play a leading role on the country’s political stage. At this moment, neither Tsipras nor the country have anything to wait for. The state apparatus is paralyzed amid election speculation and a sense of political change. The economy has come to a standstill. Greek as well as foreign investors are cold. Amid such conditions, a blunder is likely, and the country’s vital interests are at risk.
The sycophants, of course, insist. Moreover, they are dangerous in the court of prime ministers-in-waiting and prime ministers under great pressure. I can almost hear them crying out: “Mr President, we’ve got this. You can never lose to him.”
Political time is relentless. Leaders feel great pressure when it is time to decide when to leave the stage. However, today’s great threat comes from a very bad combination: On the one hand there is political panic; on the other, there is indifference about the institutions and the potential damage inflicted by the zeal to control them.