By the look of it, Alexis Tsipras has managed to secure the survival of his government without the participation of Panos Kammenos, whom he allowed to maintain his parliamentary group intact, at least for now.
This is not because Tsipras feels any particular affection for Kammenos – the prime minister is not troubled by such sensitivities which are anyhow rare in politics – but rather because he still needs him to back the bills he plans to bring to Parliament in the runup to elections.
Of course nothing can be taken for granted until Tsipras wins the confidence vote Wednesday, but this is how matters stand now.
At the same time, Tsipras has managed to plunge the political scene into turmoil, causing significant problems and bringing some of the smaller parties to the point of dissolution, just as he wanted. This is because his aim from the outset was to polarize the political landscape in the runup to elections and for SYRIZA to occupy the so-called center-left area – leading to the weakening or even disappearance of the small parties in the center (Movement for Change/KINAL, Union of Centrists, To Potami). This will create the impression that the next election battle will be between the left and right, as Independent Greeks will no longer be to the right of New Democracy.
The fact that these labels are completely misleading means nothing as SYRIZA formally and openly partnered with a nationalistic far-right party for four years, while another branch of the right essentially participated as a third pillar supporting the coalition. Impressions matter for Tsipras and his people.
Some people, even those who are not his supporters, admire Tsipras. They describe him as a capable politician in the sense that he is ruthless, tough and relentless, and he seizes the initiative. This is more or less how he is viewed by many foreign leaders, judging from the support and warmth they show him. But they all forget, or are indifferent to the fact, that Tsipras’s successful tactical moves are based on lies and deception and do not improve society. On the contrary, and probably most importantly, these moves contribute to the degradation of politics. The political situation today recalls a medieval fare filled with colorful jugglers, circus acts and acrobats. On the other hand, things could be no different, as this is the way Tsipras sees politics.
The assessment is that the 151 necessary “yes” votes to support the government will be secured, as will the 151 – or all those necessary – needed to ratify the Prespes agreement. There are slight reservations though, as one can never rule out unpredictable developments in politics. Nonetheless, if what is expected does play out, no one should bet on the timing of the elections. It will depend on the extent of the poll gap between New Democracy and SYRIZA.