An orphan memorandum

An orphan memorandum

The Greek Parliament is expected to approve the new bailout agreement, or memorandum, in the next couple of days. Approval does not of course guarantee implementation. No reform program has ever succeeded without the support of a relatively popular government.

When the government does not believe that the program is necessary, there is little reason to believe that state employees will implement it, or that citizens will embrace it. When leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras openly rejects ownership of the memorandum, how are people expected to believe that its implementation is a national goal? This means that the deal will be simply voted through Parliament so that Greece can pay back the ECB and the IMF, and avert a collapse of the banking system triggered by capital controls.

SYRIZA could evolve into a new PASOK, but I can’t see how it could evolve into a driving force for reform. In every key aspect of public life, SYRIZA has sided with reactionary, reform-averse elements. That could change, in theory. Reformist-minded voters would, in fact, be willing to back Tsipras following the adoption of the memorandum, under certain conditions: Tsipras must be clear about his aims and about the government officials on whom he will rely. Until now, Tsipras has been mostly nebulous about his goals and he has shown little inclination to make use of people beyond narrow partisan contours.

The new memorandum will fall through, or it may not even actually be put to work. It will remain an orphan memorandum, as it were, that will share the fate of those that went before it: It will cause a storm of reactions, it will be voted on, and then it will remain for the most part a dead letter.

Five years on, no government has succeeded in building its own, “Greek” memorandum – a plan that could mobilize the state as well as the people. Every “proud” negotiation ends up with the adoption of most troika demands. The mixture of political cowardice and poor management has produced the sorry saga we are now familiar with.

I do not want to kill the summer optimism. The public wants an agreement, and they want stability. But the problem will not just go away. After the elections – which everyone seems to take for granted – the country will switch back into uncertainty mode. The state will keep its anemic course. The problems dogging Greece’s real economy will grow. Our orphan memorandum will remain unimplemented for one, one-and-a-half months after its approval. Those who believe that Greece will not make it are waiting around the corner.

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