Just before submitting her resignation, former Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani said that when Parliament gave Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras the authority to negotiate a new bailout with creditors on July 11, she voted “yes” because she believed that there would eventually be no deal. Ex-Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis abstained from that same vote although he had earlier said that he “fully supports” his successor, Euclid Tsakalotos, and suggested he would vote “yes.”
Varoufakis obviously also deemed that there would be no deal, as he later went on to vote against the first set of prior actions. Then, all of a sudden, early Thursday, Varoufakis voted in favor of the second batch of measures. “The agreement is destined to fail,” the former minister said, adding that it was, however, more important “to maintain the unity of SYRIZA, to support Alexis Tsipras and to back Euclid Tsakalotos.”
The erratic and inconsistent behavior of the two former ministers is a symptom of the schizophrenia of SYRIZA’s inner opposition. By investing in anti-bailout discourse, the leftist party went from garnering a scant 4 percent in the 2009 elections to become government. SYRIZA has now chosen to sign and (possibly) implement a very harsh deal. The dissenters are expressing their disagreement, but they claim to be backing this first-time-left government as they do not wish – or dare – to bring about its collapse.
Things are not much better in SYRIZA’s pro-bailout camp either. Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos half-heartedly backed the bill that he himself brought to Parliament, portraying the reform of the code of civil procedure as a necessary evil. He attacked, in other words, the overhaul of a dysfunctional system that should have taken place many years ago.
Tsipras has adopted a similar strategy by refusing to take ownership of the program and presenting himself as a prime minister of limited responsibility.
Meanwhile, of course, no one denies that the country is in a very crucial phase and suffering a multifaceted crisis. The problem is that all these who supposedly made the big decision to cross the Rubicon are being apologetic instead of standing by their decisions. In that way, they are preparing the ground for conspiracy theories about coups and blackmail, while reinforcing skepticism among that group of Europeans who believe that Greece is incapable of reform.