Political transformation

Political transformation

Greece’s coalition government has signed up to a new agreement with the nation’s lenders which is expected to be approved by the Parliament on Thursday. This third memorandum is of course a far cry from the campaign pledges of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. It is an almost repulsive agreement.

The agreement is the result of the government’s six-month so-called negotiations. Adoption of the new memorandum and, most importantly, its implementation will determine whether Greece remains a member of the euro area. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the new agreement will buy just enough time to see whether Greece will stay in the euro or switch back to the drachma.

Simply put, nothing is final. The country will try to find its balance on the surface of a political quicksand. Germany’s stubborn Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has not given up on his idea of a temporary Grexit – and other countries could follow suit.

Importantly, SYRIZA has over the course of six months transformed itself into a systemic and pro-Europe party. The transformation is reminiscent of PASOK’s (more gradual) conciliation with the idea of NATO and EEC membership back in Andreas Papandreou’s day.

Regardless of Tsipras’s motives, he did not pay heed to the political cost. As a result, SYRIZA has come apart. The losses will become evident in Parliament Thursday.

The change marks the transformation of the Greek political scene. It effectively terminates the dichotomy between pro- and anti-Europe parties. It has also killed any ambitions to set up a pro-Europe front. The idea was shot down before it had a chance to be properly put forward.

SYRIZA’s systemic transformation, which is still in an initial phase, means that conservative New Democracy will have to build a fresh narrative to differentiate itself from Tsipras’s party.

A vociferous albeit small faction of New Democracy thought it would be a good idea to take on SYRIZA over the content of the new memorandum. Some made claims about how the center-right party should act. It seems some people slipped into a role they were not given to play – or saw themselves as an expression of the soul of the Greek right.

ND chief Evangelos Meimarakis was right to say that conservative MPs must give their unconditional support to this “very bad deal.” New Democracy has no reason to mimic SYRIZA’s ideological rift.

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