Alexis Tsipras managed to outdo himself and at the same time showed his true colors Tuesday. There is no contradiction here: Greece’s leftist leader grabbed the opportunity offered by the country’s formal exit from the bailout programs in order to push his divisive narrative even further. At the same time, he confirmed that he is the one orchestrating the vulgar attacks by SYRIZA hardliners against the perceived enemies of his administration.
Tsipras went to great pains to play up the symbolism of Ithaca, the Ionian island he chose to declare the end of the bailout era yesterday. He cast himself as an ingenious Odysseus, while portraying his political rivals, who plan to run against him in the next national election, as the contenders eyeing his throne.
To be sure, the fact that the prime minister chose to make a PR stunt out of the occasion is hardly surprising. After all, he has repeatedly demonstrated his belief that politics is little more than an exercise in spin.
There had been a sliver of hope that he would try to strike a note of consensus; that he would send a message of unity as the ship “Hellas” enters the perilous waters of the financial markets with torn sails and broken masts.
But the prime minister’s address to the nation dashed these expectations. Instead, Tsipras pointed the finger at ex-prime minister Lucas Papademos and former finance minister (now Greece’s central banker) Yannis Stournaras as evidence of the degenerate democracy in place before SYRIZA came to power – indeed a democracy that SYRIZA hardliners in close alliance with anarchist thugs and Golden Dawn neo-fascists tried to topple with slogans like “bankers have become prime ministers and ministers have become bankers.”
In an outrageous gesture, Tsipras appeared to offer political comfort to the perpetrators of the assassination attempt against Papademos and to any groups that may have targeted Stournaras. It is no coincidence that ministers Pavlos Polakis and Dimitris Tzanakopoulos had lashed out against Stournaras a day earlier.
The prime minister does not want the people to become “lotus eaters,” he does not want them to ever forget “the causes and the individuals that led the country to the memorandums.” He is of course being selective in identifying these, while sparing himself and his political cronies their responsibility for the country’s current predicament.
In accordance with his own wishes, his own despicable political record must never be erased from memory.