The dilemma that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras presented to voters was akin to asking them whether they prefer to be rich and beautiful or poor and ugly.
When you frame the question in this way, as Tsipras did before the European Parliament election, it is natural that you will be surprised if the outcome is not that which you expected.
How can anyone choose darkness over light? How can they support the “few” against the interests of the “many”? That is why stunned SYRIZA officials referred to the citizens’ inability to comprehend the magnitude of the good that the government had done them.
Stuck in the framework that they had established, they could not see what citizens saw. SYRIZA came to power after persuading a sufficient number of people that the world could be shaped the way that SYRIZA wanted, that a vote for SYRIZA could change Greece and Europe and improve each voter’s life.
The bailout/anti-bailout dilemma was based on the lie that the adjustment programs were a trick that could be forced to disappear. The dilemma between “EU remainers” and proud Greeks was also fake.
Crashing into reality cost the country dear. And yet SYRIZA is sticking to the failed tactic of trying to present reality as it wished it to be.
SYRIZA’s wishful thinking is no longer based solely on the claim that it can make the world dance to its tune, but on the absolute position that it is the only representative of good in a world full of evildoers and dimwits who are swayed by them, a world where SYRIZA is light and its opponents are darkness – all this in the language and arguments of last century’s political battles.
“The dilemma is central and merciless,” Tsipras said on Monday, speaking to his party’s Central Committee.
“On the one hand are the representatives of harsh neoliberalism, those who consider progress the result of a struggle of all against all, and, on the other side, those who represent social solidarity, social cooperation, equality and social protection. The question, then, is clear: Do we want a society in which each is alone, or a society of ‘us’?”
This dilemma failed to deliver the result that Tsipras wanted last Sunday. Voters judged SYRIZA on the basis of its being in power for more than four years, its actions and failures, the way it governs, the quality of the people in SYRIZA and their erstwhile comrades in the Independent Greeks party (which was vaporized on Sunday).
In the few weeks before the parliamentary election, can the government change tack and try to confront reality in an effort to bring back voters?
Or will it go for another roll of the dice, betting everything on division?
There’s a dilemma.