If there was one thing that the local and international establishment admired about the former SYRIZA government, it was that it was capable of implementing tough and unpopular measures without generating any meaningful reaction. In some cases leftist officials took care of sensitive issues without making a blip on the radar. No one quite knew how the SYRIZA folk were doing it, but at the end of the day, people look after their own interests.
Now two things are happening at the same time. Certain politicians and state officials are shying away from critical issues. They claim to be concerned about the political cost to justify the fact that they are, in fact, afraid of their own shadow. They put off tough decisions for later, or simply hope that someone else will be called upon to deal with them. Moreover, they will never go out of their way to defend a bold decision.
Meanwhile, SYRIZA is experiencing vertigo and is returning to the vociferous protests of yesteryear when its popularity was still in the area of 3 percent. The main opposition party criticizes measures that it voted for when it was in government while adopting uncritical activism as a substitute for policy.
It is still too early to say if this is the path that Alexis Tsipras will choose to follow. His mind says one thing but experience says another. For the time being, SYRIZA appears to want to forget about its stint in power. It would be evidence of political maturity of the country’s political system if New Democracy was able to handle difficult issues, persuading voters as to the need to make bold decisions. It would be great if it were able to do so in a straightforward fashion. And we would certainly move to a whole new level if SYRIZA did not turn its back on its years in power and engage in childish opposition tactics.
None of that will be easy. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and a critical mass of his ministers are eager to break eggs, even if the party and the state apparatus are pushing them in the opposite direction. The problem is that the timid champions of inertia are good at sabotage. They keep mumbling “Mr President, this cannot be done,” claiming to possess some deeper knowledge of Greek reality.
None of the big problems will be solved as long as these people remain reluctant and SYRIZA are out in the streets. It is a battle that has been waged time and again since the establishment of the Greek state. Only this time it must be won.