Simple lessons in self-criticism

Simple lessons in self-criticism

“If I had handed out 50 billion euros rather than collecting €37 billion, then I would be elected prime minister for as long as I want,” Alexis Tsipras, leader of the main SYRIZA opposition, said in a recent interview. The comment proved that his five years in charge of the country, as well as the three years of conservative rule that have followed, taught him nothing.

The fact that, three years since New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis became prime minister, SYRIZA is still polling in second place, trailing the conservatives by eight percentage points (the leftist party is not performing any better in the opinion polls commissioned by Koumoundourou), should have made Tsipras think again before making such statements.

During these three years, Greece has been pitched from one crisis to the next: the Covid-19 pandemic, tensions with Turkey, Russia’s war against Ukraine, soaring energy prices and inflation, the wiretapping case. The government has successfully navigated all of these (save the own goal that was the eavesdropping on the socialist PASOK leader). The economy is holding its own and the country is eyeing the achievement of investment grade in 2023. Greece’s international status has grown.

During these three years, Tsipras has done little but obstruct the government, even on national issues, in a policy of sterile rejectionism. He slammed the government’s response to the pandemic when the country was receiving praise from the rest of the planet and he even cozied up to anti-vaxxers as the country rolled out one of the best vaccination campaigns internationally. He accused the government of adopting a submissive policy toward Turkey and at the same time his party voted against the security cooperation agreements with France and the US, Greece’s strongest cards against an erratic and dangerous Erdogan.

And he continues to insist on supposedly progressive yet in fact deeply conservative ideas that have no place in the modern world: his fixation with nationalizations, his calls for unguarded university campuses, his portrayal of excellence as stigma, his policy of equal distancing from Russia’s Putin and the West, his demand for unionists’ immunity, his populist attempts to polarize society. Speaking at the international trade fair in Thessaloniki, Tsipras even spoke of reintroducing the automatic indexation mechanism, better known as ATA, and his desperate attempt to draw support was crowned with pledges for 20 billion euros in handouts.

It was never his intention. With his remark, however, Tsipras showed that he has come to admit that the next election will be won by the politician who handed out 50 billion euros. It’s certainly some progress.

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