SYRIZA’s reaction to the recommendations outlined in a report earlier this week by the expert committee headed by economist and Nobel laureate Christopher Pissarides and advising the Greek government on economic policy is fresh evidence of the opposition’s tendency to allow its ideology to get the better of it. The leftist party’s top officials allowed themselves to become caught up in a competition over who could condemn the proposals more strongly, branding them a “Pinochet-style plan” and a “new memorandum.”
Such terms are nothing short of slogans, of the kind used by SYRIZA’s leadership during the first bailout. They are also blatantly geared toward winning back voters who became alienated from SYRIZA when it came to be at the helm of a bailout program. The party is obviously hoping that its popularity – in public opinion polls for now, at least – will shoot up as it did in the 2012-2014 period.
Anyone who believes this is likely to happen is overlooking the differences between then and now – 2020 is not 2014. They are also forgetting the electoral race of 2019, when SYRIZA’s entire polemic against New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis was dominated by the same theme of “Pinochet-like plans” we are hearing now. We all know how well that strategy worked for the leftists, though SYRIZA’s defeat does not seem to be informing its leadership’s decision to use the same old unsuccessful tricks.
The opposition appears determined to continue attacking its biggest rival on the basis of a trait that is the product of its own invention, ignoring that its rival exemplifies the fact that the present is nothing like the past. It overlooks the fact that since becoming prime minister in the summer of 2019, Mitsotakis has shown an enormous amount of versatility and adaptability in his policy decisions – this, indeed, may be one of his biggest assets.
SYRIZA, in contrast, remains obstinately unchanged, insisting on falling back on a political agenda that once earned it no more than 3% of the vote. In so doing, meanwhile, it is destroying any chance it has of appealing to the center. It appears to be betting on the tough autumn that lies ahead doing most of the work for it.