Alexis Tsipras and what he represents continue to resonate with the Greek people, as is obvious from Sunday’s election results in which his SYRIZA party performed better than had been expected. Unfortunately, it is hardly surprising given that the Greek education system, its overall culture and the media have shaped a specific way of thinking in two generations of Greeks.
The January elections, the referendum in July and the results on Sunday tell us that the opposition was completely unprepared for an election victory.
Old has become old hat. It is not enough to rally the party’s electoral base and make its cadres feel better about themselves, as though the old gang has gotten back together again. For voters, and especially the young, this is nothing but offputting. What they are looking for is a new narrative with new characters.
There were, of course, some notable paradoxes in the elections. For example, recently elected PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata managed to increase her party’s share of the vote even though no one can say that she represents something new.
Stavros Theodorakis tried to express a dynamic and healthy part of society with To Potami but was unable to muster the support he needed to make a difference.
The extremely poor performance of Popular Unity, a true anti-bailout force, was also surprising given how deeply anti-memorandum sentiment has become embedded in the collective psyche. Clearly its representatives just don’t have the skills required to win over the public.
So Greece now finds itself on the same path that it was in January. Some dream that Tsipras will become transformed into a center-left politician who will proceed with reforms, privatizations, and so on. Maybe they are drawing some hope from the sheer magnitude of their despair because there are no such signs on the horizons, especially since the same coalition has emerged from yesterday’s vote.
The most likely scenario is that we’ll hobble along in our own special way until the next big upset and that deep reforms, change and the rebirth of the country will remain the stuff of dreams.
For the country to change, the people need to be won over by new politicians and new narratives – and these seem a long way off.