State of flux

State of flux

The political landscape of the modern Greek state has always defied an accurate description.

The dominant characteristic of the country’s political life has been volatility. If there are two periods that can be said to stand out, these are the eight-year rule of the late Constantine Karamanlis (1955-63) and the 35-year (1974-2009) period that followed the end of the military dictatorship, better known here as the Metapolitefsi period. (Notwithstanding the fact that the political habits of the Metapolitefsi are often blamed for contemporary woes.) That said, there is nothing particularly unusual about the period we find ourselves in now. After all, when democratic states fall into decline, political stability is rarely the rule.

Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s prime minister, recently said on public broadcaster ERT that he feels safe with the coalition’s parliamentary majority of 153 deputies. The leftist leader also said that he could only guarantee the solidarity of SYRIZA. Times are hard, the problems are huge, the available options are all extremely painful, and the time that has passed since the arrogant and groundless pledges of yesteryear is too short.

Meanwhile, we are nowhere near out of the woods. And the same of course goes for the government.

In light of the above, Tsipras may brag about the strength of his administration, but he clearly knows he is treading a political minefield. It’s hard to know the extent to which he really believes that his party’s parliamentary group is solid. He is most probably investing in other factors such as the crisis plaguing the conservative opposition, that weird sensation that at least a part of New Democracy does not want to see the government go down before it wraps up its four-year term, and the apparent leniency shown to the administration by foreign creditors. And it is hard to deny that they seem to be giving him some extra time and space for maneuver.

On the other hand, there are stormclouds gathering over the government coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks of Panos Kammenos, which might explain Tsipras’s discreet cozying up to Vassilis Leventis, the leader of the once-fringe Center Union party.
At the same time, a section of the Greek media is trying to play up Tsipras and his party. Certainly there can be no safe prediction about the state New Democracy will be in after the leadership elections later this month. In fact, developments in the conservative camp will also affect the stance of PASOK socialists and To Potami.

Again, all that might change again from March onward.