Up the creek without a paddle

One of the issues that dominated the country’s pre-election debate was whether SYRIZA, which eventually won the vote, had worked out a plan B. It was clear from the start that its much-hyped plan A was impossible and bound to meet with strong resistance from Greece’s eurozone peers.

Plan A required nothing less than a revolution in many sectors and on many levels, both here at home and in the rest of Europe. Also, it required money, a huge amount of money that did not exist, does not exist, and will not exist in the near future.

One did not have to be a scientist to understand all that; that is unless one had grown up in the environment of endless, ideologically fixated debates that have largely shaped the Greek left over the previous decades. After all, this is the political, economic and social model that pretty much led the country to bankruptcy.

Soon after the elections, however, it became clear that SYRIZA didn’t have a plan A let alone a plan B, although two things did seem planned: First, it had decided to govern together with the right-wing anti-bailout Independent Greeks party and, second, it had decided to elect former conservative minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos as president. The rest of the SYRIZA discourse was simply rehashed slogans and sound bites without substance or forethought. All these are now put forward in the form of policies that must be materialized. Policies which are a nonstarter in real life.

This explains the party’s soft spot for doublespeak, its preference for polarizing rhetoric, ambiguity (or, as some officials have it, “creative ambiguity”), confusion, inaction and compromise.

It’s all about spin. PR is key priority for the current administration and it is an area where, to be honest, it has really excelled. A high level of tolerance among voters has helped too.

The outcome of all that is the all too familiar anxiety about the future: Securing (on a daily or weekly basis) the necessary funds to keep the country afloat. The government is seeking funds and is even scraping the bottom of the barrel for the last cash reserves so that Greece can avoid a credit event and keep the banks standing. At the same time, however, government officials never seem to miss an opportunity to irk the institutions and lenders. Those are the institutions and the lenders on which we depend to avoid collapse.

All that is a far cry from the stable and calm environment that would allow some hope of recovery. We are on an uncertain path to an unknown destination.