Seeking to reverse the government’s steady slide in popularity, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is embarking on a campaign to shift the focus of the public debate to the economy’s positive prospects in light of last month’s Eurogroup deal.
To this end, he arrives in Kozani in northern Greece Tuesday to attend a two-day regional conference – the first of 13 such events – which, he hopes, will signal the beginning of the country’s exit from the years-long financial crisis. And with Greece’s bailout program ending in August 2018, the government is keen to build on these regional conferences to help kickstart the economy and change the narrative of gloom that has come to haunt the left-led coalition.
Tsipras can take heart from the fact that for the first time since 2014, the environment appears more conducive to the country’s return to international bond markets, while the eurozone received a strong boost with election of Emmanuel Macron in France.
But Tsipras will have his work cut out for him to sway the public debate in its favor given domestic events of the last four weeks, which included a garbage collector strike, allegations linking the leader of the junior coalition party Panos Kammenos to a drug convict and revelations of a plan for a parallel currency that the government and the finance minister of the time, Yanis Varoufakis, were planning in 2015.
Moreover, Tsipras and his delegation will be met with local opposition to plans for privatizing Public Power Corporation (PPC).
Trade unionists and other local labor groups have already lambasted Tsipras for going back on many of his pre-election pledges, reminding him that he had once described many of the measures included in last month’s Eurogroup deal as “crimes.”
Local unionists also claim that the commitments made by the government in last month’s Eurogroup deal will not only fail to bring economic growth, but will pave the way for the region’s financial degradation.