The passions of the left

The passions of the left

It appears that SYRIZA is on the brink of a complete meltdown. This gathering of motley Marxists collapsed under the pressure of the adjustment that comes with the exercise of power. The various factions within the leftist party were unable to come to terms with the changes accepted by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, preferring instead to maintain their ideological purity.

The fact is that the left in Greece has always been obsessed with its own demise. Its war cries are nothing short of lamentations. It likes to cause a stir, mix things up, but it is its victimhood that keeps it alive. Betrayal is the explanation for every failure, even for those jumping the SYRIZA ship.

Tsipras believes that he has the citizens’ unwavering support. He may be laboring under the worst of delusions but if his belief is justified and SYRIZA is not crushed in the polls, he will be a unique case.

Since the restoration of democracy, Greece has had two leaders with unquestionable stature and skill: Constantine Karamanlis and Andreas Papandreou. They, however, were backed by robust party mechanisms, by officials and supporters who threw themselves passionately into the fray for victory. This is not the case with the current prime minister.

In the seven months since he was elected, Tsipras has blatantly dashed voters’ hopes and expectations. He came under attack from the European establishment and, when he eventually agreed to a deal with Greece’s partners, faced fervent reactions from inside his party.

From a revolutionary leader of European proportions, Tsipras became a victim of circumstance – in other words, he became the ideal of the Greek left. It is, however, interesting to see how voters will act at the ballot box, citizens who for the past five years have felt that they are victims of European brutality and the infidelity of Greece’s established political system.

On a practical level, Tsipras has signed the ultimate memorandum, a deal containing all of the measures that since 2010 a succession of pro-European governments had pushed under the carpet out of fear of the political cost. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the decision by the head of SYRIZA – or what’s left of him – to call snap elections received a positive response from the leaders of the eurozone and the so-called institutions. Normally, those who wanted Greece to remain in the eurozone should have voted for Tsipras. They did not, though, because the main goal of the pro-Europeans was to ensure he never came to power.

The tragedy is that whatever government emerges from the elections will be obliged to enforce the memorandum negotiated by SYRIZA. And that’s when the real tragedy will begin.

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