The object of desire

The object of desire

SYRIZA clearly covets the Movement for Change alliance of center-left parties, hoping to achieve one of four things: First, it would like to woo the new movement as a potential post-election ally, since SYRIZA’s coalition with the right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks is obviously close to its expiry date. Then, it would like to woo voters away from the movement and cause a rift within its ranks in the hope that the alliance will collapse or reach some kind of understanding with it that would help SYRIZA isolate the main opposition New Democracy party.

Driven to achieve any of the above goals, SYRIZA is engaging in a combination of flirtation, pressure and provocation. It is always Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who sets the tone, and the others follow – even those who are ostensibly opposed to much of what SYRIZA is doing, such as Nikos Fylis. The former education minister recently called on the Movement for Change to say whether it would be willing to work in a coalition with a “progressive or conservative” government.

In the meantime, at an earlier meeting of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group, the prime minister had launched a verbal attack against what he calls the “evil front,” which comprises New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis, PASOK strongman Evangelos Venizelos (he didn’t refer specifically to Andreas Loverdos of the same party but it is well known that he includes the former health minister in the same category), ex-conservative premier Antonis Samaras and others. Ironically, he attributes traits to these forces of evil that SYRIZA itself frequently employs as a tool.

The truth is that none of the above really matters, given that for Greece to have a government in the case that one party doesn’t get enough votes in the next elections to go it alone, any coalition would have to include the participation of whichever party got the most. Our electoral system doesn’t allow anything else. That, therefore, will be when the Movement for Change will have to decide on what it wants to do and since all public opinions polls indicate that New Democracy will garner the most votes in the next elections, only a coalition with the conservatives makes sense.

The Movement for Change is keeping a neutral and independent stance right now, and rightly so. It doesn’t want to show a preference for New Democracy or for SYRIZA, though it may agree to a broader coalition, which is however something that the other two reject. The big risk for the alliance is that it might lose even more voter support as the political atmosphere becomes even more polarized in the runup to the next elections and the overwhelming majority of its support base is deeply anti-SYRIZA and may choose anyone else just to get the leftists out. After the elections its dilemma will be between joining New Democracy – if it comes first without a majority of 51 percent – and taking the country to fresh elections on the basis of simple representation, thus leading to complete chaos.

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