OPINION

Self-opposing coalition

Even though a number of polls see the total percentage of the two ruling parties trailing that of SYRIZA, New Democracy and PASOK are still in government and the leftists in opposition. This means that the three parties should be assessed on the basis of how they are fulfilling the institutional roles assigned to them and not on their future roles.

On the matter of SYRIZA, the leftist party needs to clarify with which political forces it aims to forge alliances, given the denial of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and the fact that it is unlikely Democratic Left and ANTARSYA will garner enough votes in the next election to make it into Parliament again. Will it make an overture to To Potami, whose entire profile centers on one single person and which appears to have already discovered the joys of arrogance, while presenting itself to be almost apolitically willing to work with both the right and the left? Will it go with Independent Greeks, a party based on nationalism and conspiracy theories, whose policy coincides with SYRIZA only in its anti-memorandum rhetoric? With PASOK, which may need to find a new leader, name and symbol if it fails to be saved by its rather transparent efforts?

SYRIZA’s central committee recently decided to explore the issue of alliances “soon.” Putting off the debate may have helped quell some of the discord within the party but it suggests an inability to settle internal conflicts when one of the main things you need before you seek out alliances is agreement over who these alliances will be with and what they will entail.

The government is also facing problems in its alliance building, and not just as it seeks a super-majority of 180 deputies in the 300-seat Parliament to elect a new president, but also for its day-to-day operations. The recent disagreement between PASOK and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over a reduction in the salaries of newly appointed civil servants from an already measly 780 euros to 680 euros is just another front that has opened up in the ongoing battle between the coalition partners. PASOK, though in the coalition, is also behaving as though it is in double opposition: against its partner New Democracy, as well as against SYRIZA, treating the latter as though it were already in power.

ND has adopted a similar stance by dealing with SYRIZA as though the leftists were in government and accusing PASOK of cowardice and its government officials of not doing their bit. We don’t need to add the opposing forces at work within each of the governing parties to understand that the main factor behind the current instability and concern is the government itself, a government that opposes itself. The heroic exit from the bailout program was an attempt to win the battle on some of these fronts, but the furious backpedaling that has ensued has merely served to open up new ones and blaming SYRIZA just won’t cut it any longer.