There are people in this world who appear to be blessed and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is one of them. He could never had become prime minister with a far-left party that polled at around 3 percent without some skill and luck. He is not the heir of a dynasty nor did he attend a privileged school surrounded by the elite – what he has achieved he has done so on his own merit.
The problem is that luck can only carry you so far – it cannot make up for a lack of experience and knowledge in an international and highly critical environment. Tsipras succeeded, on his own but also thanks to the collapse of the old political system, to become Greece’s youngest premier. Yet history assigned him a rather uncomfortable role. There are few leaders in Greece’s modern history who have had to manage a situation as difficult as the current one with Tsipras’s lack of experience. They were all hardened politicians, mature and ready for their part, having survived wars, occupations, revolutions and poverty.
Tsipras spent his adulthood among unionists and party cadres. From 2012 up to the present he has improved in leaps and bounds thanks to his travels and discussions with key figures. But the time was not enough and the circumstances did not allow for him to receive further education.
The manner in which he handles Greece’s foreign creditors is a bit too reminiscent of the methods used by radicals of his generation and by he himself when he was a politically involved student at the National Technical University of Athens. One of the main forms of protest that exemplifies the tactics of this generation is the sit-in. Whenever anything goes wrong for them, they storm into a public building and anyone who stands in their way is regarded as an agent of some indeterminate suspicious group. Every notion of institutional order is mocked.
The sit-in method, however, does not work in international politics. That is not to say that none of the European officials is arrogant or corrupt, but they have certain rules that they expect everyone to abide by. Now they are afraid that if they give in to Greece’s tactics more countries will follow in its footsteps. They are willing to turn a blind eye to our transgressions, to give us a B+ rather than a C and to let us carry on as we are – but only for so long. At the end of the day, if you want to be a member of their club, you have to play by their rules.
There’s no way Tsipras hasn’t realized that after so many discussions with so many officials. What he does with that knowledge will show us whether he is able to leave his past behind and take the tough decisions needed. The only thing he’s really afraid of is his own people storming into his plans.