Many argue that the most likely scenario with respect to domestic political developments is that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will opt for early elections, on the grounds that he will avoid the political cost of the already agreed pension cuts and the possible lowering of the tax-free threshold from 2019 instead of 2020.
However, there was a different strategy in the mind of the prime minister from the outset that is consistent with the narrative he is promoting these days, which points to the completion of the government’s full four-year term.
Tsipras will remain in power as long as possible, utilizing all the benefits that come with being in office, and enjoying the visibility it offers. At the same time, he will claim he respects the institutions and the Constitution, which provides for a four-year mandate.
Of course, at the end of 2014, as the leader of the opposition, he pushed the country into early elections, which brought political instability, and for many months an extremely dangerous period of uncertainty.
But those were different times. There were “illusions,” as the prime minister himself has said when trying to explain past mistakes.
His political narrative will be built on exiting the bailouts, even if the exit will not be as “clean” as he would have wanted, since the so-called “post-bailout” era will include measures that have already been agreed to and voted on, while the country will indeed remain under supervision.
However, Tsipras will talk about “turning a new page.” He will stress that, as European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas also said on Monday while commenting on Eurostat’s data on the Greek economy, “the sacrifices the Greek people have made for years are now starting to pay off.”
He will point out that the economy is in its third year of growth, even if the rate in 2017 was a mere 1.4 percent instead of initial estimates of 1.8 percent, and this year is forecast to be at 2 percent (instead of 2.6 percent).
The emphasis will not be on percentages, but on the fact that the economy has returned to positive growth, and unemployment declined to 21.5 percent in 2017, with forecasts for 18 percent in 2019.
Main opposition New Democracy will point out that with lower taxes, growth would have been close to 3 percent. Still, compared with the past, the political landscape will be different. That is why it is more likely that the prime minister’s strategy of completing the four-year term will prevail.