A lot of milk was spilt in Greece in 2015. SYRIZA’s amateurish and dangerous antics came at a heavy price for the country, and I’m not just talking about the 2, 30 or 100 billion euros various experts have estimated.
I am talking about the huge impact this debacle had on the lives of regular people: on small businesses that folded under pressure from capital controls; entrepreneurs who had seen the economic climate improving in late 2014 then canceled investments that would have generated jobs; foreign investors who had risked their money in Greece and got burned. We are not talking about simple numbers, but about the destruction of the country’s productive fabric and people’s lives. No one should doubt that if we had been a normal country, Antonis Samaras’s government would have seen out its term, the economy would have gotten onto the path of growth and banks would have been in a better state than they are today. And Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would have taken over a normal country where his experiments would have fared a lot better. But the SYRIZA president was in a hurry.
In 2018 the people are focused on their survival and fighting tooth and nail for some normality. The economy seems to have hit rock bottom and is slowly starting to rise again – not because the government has done anything that is conducive to growth, but because it couldn’t go much lower.
The opposition does not have a lot to gain by picking fights over the past. Many SYRIZA voters bitterly regret their decision, but they don’t need to be reminded of a mistake they made in anger. Some feel that despite the huge cost, this government was a tribulation we needed to go through just to get it out of our systems.
Of course it is important to record history and the truth so that we don’t make the same mistakes again in future. But the best way to go about it would be to assign the task to a committee of unimpeachable experts who will explain in detail why Greece went bankrupt, why it needed to be bailed out, why those bailout partially failed and how much Yanis Varoufakis’s stint at the Finance Ministry ultimately cost us.
But the people want answers now. They want someone to explain how what they are feeling as a trace of normalcy today can become a growth spurt; to convince them it is OK that they voted for Tsipras in anger but now it’s time to choose someone more suitable, who can make the country richer, more normal and more functional.
The main opposition needs to convince voters that it has the people, the plan, the courage and the background to take the country forward, and should leave judgment of the past to future historians and repentant voters.