A serious, responsible opposition

Alexis Tsipras is in a hurry to govern, just like his predecessors Antonis Samaras and George Papandreou were before him. But at what cost? Papandreou did not prepare himself for power and the only thing he did during his final year as the leader of the country’s main opposition was to repeatedly and monotonously call for elections.

As the election approached, in his rush to govern, he delivered the infamous phrase “The money is there,” a motto which ended up enraging the Greek people and which is bound to haunt every historical review of his political legacy.

Samaras also led an extreme opposition and allowed a portion of his conservative party to embrace conspiracy theories and utter the kind of harsh words he now comes across every time he is called to make a difficult decision.

Populism seems to be an easy solution when you’re in the opposition, but it invariably comes back and bites you when you’re in a position of absolute responsibility.

SYRIZA’s chief is making the same mistake, only more intensely, opting for the creation of chaos through strikes and sit-ins. He seems to believe that this is the only way to go and he’s giving it his all in order to rise to power.

Each time there was public support regarding a need for consensus between Costas Karamanlis and Papandreou, Papandreou and Samaras, or anyone else for that matter, the party cadres were quick to smell a conspiracy. In reality, however, let’s be honest, the only ones who didn’t wish to see any kind of consensus and collaboration were those party officials whose vision blurred when they saw power approaching.

Perhaps it’s too late to talk about agreement now. The country is drowning in polarization, tension and insults which have replaced dialogue. Everyone likes to talk about growth and stabilizing the economy, but what sensible person will invest in a country which is constantly flirting with disaster and whose opposition threatens investors with lawsuits?

If Tsipras does rise to power, he will come face to face with the very real nightmare of the promises he has made and the threats he has launched. Each step toward moderation will spark an even greater reaction by the people and his own party.

So is the opposition expected to just sit back and sip chamomile tea until the next general election? No. What the country has lacked in the last few years – and has ended paying a hefty price for – is an opposition that was unwilling to make promises that could not be fulfilled in order to rise to power and which felt a sense of responsibility for the country and did some serious prep work for the day after.

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