Suicidal tendencies

New Democracy is proving unable to shoulder the weight of PASOK. Evangelos Venizelos, the leader of the once-dominant Socialist party established by the late Andreas Papandreou, appears nervous and confused. That is barely a surprise given the party’s ongoing decline into nothingness.

Meanwhile, ND leader and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has to deal with the fragmentation of his own party. These, of course, are the flowers of evil – the ugly legacy of the financial crisis and the unstoppable impact on Greece’s political system.

The leaders of the two mainstream parties that dominated Greek politics in the years following the military dictatorship have in theory sacrificed themselves for the sake of the country – or that’s what they say. But their actions suggest otherwise.

This paradoxical state of affairs is resulting in confusion and a sense of disorganization. It is also feeding resentment among voters, which is not only undermining PASOK and New Democracy, but the political system in general.

The 2011 elections and all subsequent polls suggest that the overwhelming majority of PASOK voters have gravitated toward the leftist SYRIZA opposition. If we were to use Venizelos’s political vocabulary, the party’s traditional voters would be classified as “apostates” and the government’s fuss about Alexis Tsipras’s supposed machinations to sway PASOK deputies would be totally unfounded.

To be sure, it’s unlikely that Tsipras, who is leading a motley crew of leftist groupings, can machinate anything at all. That said, the attempts by conservative spin doctors to classify SYRIZA as an extremist party or place it outside the contours of Greece’s democratic politics have backfired. The allegations have allowed Tsipras to rally his fighting forces.

A relative newcomer to the Greek political stage, Tsipras can only benefit from attacks by what is perceived as the country’s established forces. Forty years later, SYRIZA’s enemies are simply mimicking the mistakes of those who tried to stop Andreas Papandreou – and failed.

Meanwhile, after three years of austerity politics, Greece’s political class should have realized by now that governments and troika inspectors have never been in total harmony. But some form of compromise has always emerged.

Suddenly, and while the government still had at least two years ahead of it, it was somehow seized by panic: It rushed to herald its “success story,” Samaras and Venizelos drew so-called red lines ahead of troika talks, and are bound to end up with egg on their faces as any agreement will not match their excessive pledges. Greeks have every right to be perplexed about their leaders’ suicidal tendencies.

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