If an alien observer were to parachute into Greece at the moment, he would certainly find it hard to believe that the country is just a few days ahead of a general election – in fact, an election that is very likely to see the anti-revolutionary forces, as it were, sweep back into power. The center-right party “of yesterday,” as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras put it, is tempted to throw out the “first-time-left” government.
And yet no posters and fliers are to be seen in the streets, no politically associated songs are to be heard. The TV duel between the two main contenders was aborted essentially on the agreement of both camps, and watching interviews of the two leaders makes one feel that Greece has turned into some cozy Scandinavian country. Sure, Tsipras tried to intimidate voters at the last moment with the threat of the right-wing bogeyman who will enforce a seven-day working week, prize profit-making above all else, and fire any civil servant who is not to his liking. But the trick is not working.
Greece has certainly not all of a sudden turned into a fully fledged European country. What happened is that New Democracy’s landslide victory in European Parliament elections a month ago leaves little doubt about Sunday’s outcome. Meanwhile, people are too fed up with the administrative failings, the lack of moderation and the unfettered lies of the Tsipras administration to fall for the scare-mongering. On the contrary, they seem rather eager to see the page turned. And their eagerness is growing by the day.
Even Tsipras, whose public appearances have lost their spark, knows that the game is lost. It remains to be seen whether the margin will be 8, 10 or 12 points and if certain minor parties will manage to enter Parliament, thus affecting the size of the conservative majority.
For his part, Kyriakos Mitsotakis is doing everything to avoid polarizing the atmosphere or speaking about the difficulties of the day after. Like a midsummer Santa, the ND chief has vowed to slash taxes, not to fire anyone and not to cut any benefits. He only brings good news: Greece will simply take off after his victory, investments will come thick and fast, and foreigners will bring their money to the new Eldorado, expanding growth at a pace similar to China.
This is one of the biggest challenges that Mitsotakis will have to face after the vote. The huge expectations among voters about an ND government combined with popular anger at SYRIZA’s miserable administration. The sooner he manages to reconcile Greeks with the tough reality, the fewer the problems his administration will have to face.