Tom Petty said it best in his beautiful song “Learning to Fly”: “What goes up must come down.” Pretty basic stuff, you might say. But it’s not really, not when we’re talking about politics and politicians in particular, who almost inevitably believe that once they are elected and climb up to a certain point on the ladder, they will be there for life.
The governing leftist SYRIZA party is a pretty typical example of this mind-set. It is not the only one, of course, but it is the most recent. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, you might say. We’ve got a general election coming up on July 7. That’s very true. Regardless, though, the difference between SYRIZA and the conservative main opposition New Democracy is too great and the time too short for the leftists to win back those 10 percentage points and get enough votes to form a government. In that sense, it has come down after going up – at the very least, it has come to the end of a cycle.
Either way, the response from the prime minister’s office and the party’s headquarters last Sunday night was the reaction to a defeat at a general election and not a European Parliament poll: It was shock and awe.
“What goes up must come down” is a fundamental law of gravity, not to mention life: from the short life of a mortal being on this Earth, to the trajectory of love, art, business and, of course, politics. However, the incredible thing is that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, like just about every political leader before him, acts as though he’s married to his position.
The paradox is that when they’re in power they’re constantly insecure and coming up with ways to hang onto it (like revising the Constitution, controlling the media, meddling with justice and making handouts), but when election time rolls around, they forget how fleeting power can be. They have cut themselves off so entirely from the zeitgeist that they have no other result but victory on their minds.
SYRIZA’s future is interesting. It learned to fly high, but does it have wings? It’s popularity swelled suddenly and was the result of a combination of factors, mainly the economic crisis and the anger of the people. It has soared, but now it needs to prove that it does indeed have wings and, especially if it is defeated in the July election (as seems likely), that it will be the strong leftist pillar some believe it will become in the future.