The day after

The day after

Watching Sunday’s “Macedonia” rally in Athens, I got a strange feeling that I could not quite explain. As the day went on, however, I began to realize that another big cycle was coming to a close. Suddenly, all that we had experienced in previous years seemed irrelevant. It felt as if the action had moved on to a different field but we hadn’t moved with it.

There can be no safe predictions about what the day after will look like. However, things have certainly become more complicated for the key protagonists of the country’s two main parties. Theoretically speaking, overcoming the bailout / anti-bailout dichotomy should favor Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as he systematically tries to cultivate the profile of a responsible, pro-European center-left leader. Logically, the further away we move from the wounds and divisions bequeathed to us from the bailout era, the easier it will be for the SYRIZA leader to cultivate his social democratic persona.
However, logic and politics do not always go hand in hand. The return to some form of normality and, above all, the emergence of new dividing lines (but this time not of the premier’s making) entail risks that could sooner or later make Tsipras’s entire narrative irrelevant.

Meanwhile, conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is facing similar problems, but at least he is not prime minister. In an environment that is in flux, the already-delicate equilibrium inside his New Democracy party requires very deft moves if a liberal politician like himself is to play ball in a field where liberal ideas are not very much in vogue.

In that sense, New Democracy could start to look more and more like SYRIZA before January 2015: a party which will increasingly try to keep everyone happy, either by mincing its words or by investing in creative obscurity, only this time of a right-wing kind. This is not necessarily a bad thing given that the current has started to shift toward the right of the political spectrum. But the ND leader will have to make sure he does not turn his back on the political center which traditionally elects Greece’s governments.

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