The leader of the opposition is endowed with an institutional role because everyone agrees on the importance of the opposition’s role in a democracy. This is evidently also the case in Greece, where democracy functions fully, despite what some may say, in ignorance or malice. Nevertheless, the country has its fair share of challenges.
One of these stems from the question of whether main opposition SYRIZA is playing its role as it ought to. The answer is no. It is an “anything goes” kind of opposition and it relies on four pillars. These are either unconscious, in that they are governed by an innate attitude in the party and its leadership, or deliberate and driven by the belief that this is the most effective way of bolstering its popularity. The first pillar is built around the adoption of all manner of fake news. The second is blank rejection of everything the government says or does. The third relies on an abundance of promises, even though many are impossible, and the fourth is the belief that the people have a short memory and poor judgment.
There is nothing theoretical about these conclusions; they arise from observation of the facts. Lies are a staple in the exercise of opposition by SYRIZA and its leader, Alexis Tsipras: from claims that the PM takes orders from Berlin and the supply of coronavirus self-testing kits had been assigned to Siemens, to the statement that November 17 terrorist Savvas Xiros had been arrested under a SYRIZA administration after escaping from prison and the completely unfounded claim that Culture Minister Lina Mendoni had her name etched on a commemorative plaque on the Acropolis.
The opposition is not discouraged by denials or proof of its falsehoods. It is happy to admit to a policy of blanket rejectionism, even if this leads to gaffes like that by its MP Theodora Tzakri over the diaspora vote, and insists on making promises it cannot keep. If that’s how the opposition wants to play it, that’s its prerogative. We have democracy after all – but we also have a brain.