“You are dumping on the young people of our country all the hatred that autocratic regimes have always kept in stock for use against youth. All your hatred,” Alexis Tsipras declared on Wednesday, addressing the prime minister during the parliamentary debate on the new labor law. The clumsy use in Greek of the English word “stock” was a clear reference to an older statement in which the opposition leader was criticized for referring to the use of the AstraZeneca vaccination as “dumping stock.” Repeating the specific word was a way for Tsipras to declare victory over his critics, following international (and Greek) confusion concerning the vaccination’s safety. Aside from revealing his need for revenge, these few words summarise Tsipras’ political tactics: They are excessively hostile, divisive and often off point.
Since before his election as prime minister, SYRIZA has accused Kyriakos Mitsotakis of being a far-right, autocratic counterpart of Viktor Orban. Despite proof to the contrary (for example, Mitsotakis has been one of the Hungarian leader’s fiercest critics in the European People’s Party), Tsipras persists. “At midday there is violence and autocracy and at night propaganda,” he declared in March, following a case of police brutality, which, he claimed, was not covered sufficiently by news media. On Wednesday he proclaimed: “Inside the walls sit the elite who support you and whom you support. Outside the walls, the great majority of society.” However, “class war” does not sell anymore. That is why Tsipras has now come up with the government’s “hatred” for the young, his chief arguments being the AZ vaccination, “the police state,” and the “wire fencing keeping tens of thousands of kids far from their dreams, entry into a university department.”
Other than a blanket rejection of the labor bill (and despite many of its articles being approved by SYRIZA MPs), Tsipras did not get into the essence of the issue. The new labor law aims to impose order on a chaotic situation, to anticipate new changes, to strengthen the real economy. Without development, without new jobs, wages will remain low, whatever the law declares, whatever parties may claim. The future of the young will be determined by reforms to the public administration and the justice system, by the imposition of evaluation and meritocracy.
The young people themselves will judge who “hates” or who “loves” them. And they will do so on the basis of today’s and tomorrow’s needs, not yesterday’s.