Greece Analysis: Why Prime Minister Tsipras Called A Snap Election

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PHOTO: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)


Sotirios Zartaloudis of the University of Birmingham writes for The Conversation:


Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister of Greece, has announced he is stepping down and has called a snap election for September 20, less than a year since he took office as the leader of the left-wing coalition Syriza.

The move marks another episode in the long-running and seemingly never-ending Greek crisis. It is evidence of the pitfalls of Tsipras’ populist discourse. His strategy has rendered Greece almost ungovernable for more than a year.

Since the Greek crisis of 2010, Alexis Tsipras had accused previous Greek governments and opposition members of subservience to Germany’s austerity programme. His anti-austerity and pro-Euro platform won him the January 2015 elections with 36% of the vote and almost half the seats in Parliament.

However, Tsipras failed miserably in delivering this promise. After seven months of political theatre and erratic brinkmanship, Tsipras signed the most austere bailout program yet, lasting until 2018.

Splinters on the left

Calling the election, Tsipras spoke of two key signs of his government’s success — the latest austerity package and the return to normality of the Greek banking system.

This is yet another example of his demagogic politics: the man who railed against austerity is now defending a new bailout program that will result in more austerity. The man who implemented the closure of the Greek banks and the imposition of capital controls boasts that Greek banks will be functioning as they should sometime in the future.

The decision to call this election was dictated mostly by internal party politics. Syriza brings together socialists, Maoists, communists, and disillusioned social-democrats (who constitute the minority in the party).

The largest leftist group in Syriza, the radical pro-socialist and pro-Russia Left Platform led by Marxist Socialist MP Panayiotis Lafazanis, could not accept Tsipras’ U-turn. Its members have rejected the government’s new pro-euro policy.

LEFT PLATFORM LEADER GREECE

Left Platform leader Panayiotis Lafazanis (Reuters)

Left Platform’s MPs have been openly against Euro and EU membership. They want Greece to turn to Putin’s Russia for help. Tsipras has only been able to hold power thanks to support from the vilified opposition parties New Democracy, The River, and PASOK.

Lafazanis has now announced plans to launch a new party called “Popular Unity”, which will call for the return to a national currency and immediate default on the Greek debt. It should be noted that the only other party openly supporting a Euro-exit is the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn.

What Next for Syriza?

Syriza’s break-up marks the end of a symbiotic relationship between the Left Platform and the so-called “Proedrikoi” (in Greek: the men of the President).

These groups tolerated each other while in opposition. The hard-left Syriza members provided the organisational and activist militancy, while the Proedrikoi brought the populist flair of Tsipras. Even now, he remains the most popular party leader in Greece.

Tsipras seems determined to bring a more centrist position to Syriza, replicating PASOK –– a party that traditionally combined leftist and nationalistic populism and continued commitment to the EU.

So far, it seems that his populist strategy is working, but nobody knows how the disillusioned Greeks will react on election day when Tsipras asks them to support him for another three years of austerity. It would be safe to assume, however, that like an ancient Greek demagogue, he will manage to persuade Greeks to trust him again in another uncertain trip towards normality.

The best option for Tsipras would be to abandon his populism and demagoguery. He should be honest with Greek voters about the need for painful and unpopular reforms, such as better tax collection, pension and labour market regulation, reduction of clientelism, and an increase of Greek competitiveness to attract foreign investment.

This would be a truly revolutionary move – a word he and other Greek politicians have used and abused. As George Orwell wrote in his novel 1984: “In a time of universal deceit –– telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Scott you have one of the best sites for Syria analysis, but I’m not sure why you felt it necessary to post this awful piece advocating even more of the same neo-liberal austerity (dishonestly dubbed here “honesty”) that has brought about this catastrophe for Greek working and poor people and the usual bonanza for the plutocracy. The Left Platform is not mainly characterised by being “pro-Russia” (there are a great many tendencies in it, many strongly pro-Syrian revolution by the way) but by actually rejecting this catastrophic pro-plutocracy politics that New Democracy and Pasok have imposed, and now, unfortunately, has also been shoved down the throat of the tragic Tsipras character, by the unelected Eurocracy.

    • mkaradjis,

      Thanks — I posted the piece hoping to get the type of debate that you have begun with your incisive response.

      S.

    • “European institutions could have saved €216 billion – With tips of trainees”

      1….At 1983 a german trainee got a job at the greek Agriculture Ministry. All started when the german student met the Greek Minister of Agriculture Costas Simitis after a lecture at the Hamburg World Economic Archives and asked him for an internship in his ministry. The first report of this student was published 1986 under the headline “Sheep cheese from Denmark”.
      Later one his greek experience was processed in a paper called: “The consequences of the integration of Greek agriculture in the European Community”. At that time there was no public response to this article.

      This student had described his working place like this:

      “”Once in the ministry I had plenty of desks, only a few were occupied. I quickly understood why there is rarely someone sitting: The desk right next to mine belonged to an official who incidentally drove taxi, at the two desks in the next room were actually colleagues, one of whom operated a kiosk at Syntagma Square and the other a Souvlaki – Restaurant at this place. I saw them only from time to time appear in the Ministry. After all. Thousands of civil servants need not come to work and received her salary month after month, year after year.

      They had obtained their jobs as election gifts that they had promised before by the ballot leaders. A common bipartisan practice who regularly took turns in government. Almost every government agency was twice occupied, according to experts. I quickly realized that without the annual billion transfers from the EU budget Greece would have been even then broke.

      Because the invisible hand of the state absorbed more than half of the national income.

      It was also exciting the application of the so-called Olive Tree Regulation. They regulated the EU subsidies according to the number of olive trees. Although the olive tree is not exactly known as a fast growing plant, but the number had doubled in Greece to the EU membership within two years. Also the Greek import statistics aroused my interest because Greece was flooded by goat cheese from Denmark, pork meat for Souvlakis and milk from Germany. They were simply much cheaper than the products of Greek farmers. Even the Greek tomatoes had no chance against the much cheaper Dutch greenhouse crops.”

      These are just a few examples of the basic plight of the Greek economy. The idea behind the EU access was that Greece benefited from the large European internal market. The opposite was the case – not only in agriculture: At 1986 the greek ills were written down which everyone knows today (2015):

      a. an inefficient state apparatus and civil servants jobs as election gifts
      b. an inefficient Greek economy – even agriculture had no viable business model
      c. an incorrect subsidy policy: The billions from Brussels did not flow in investment and
      structural reforms, but often ended up on private accounts
      d. An accelerated debt dynamics through a populist spending policies

      All these findings were not new. Even the then Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou at his time that the timing of the EU recording was a mistake. Any halfway economically educated person should have realized the situation – if you had wanted it. But you did not want. Greece has been included to the EU primarily for political reasons. They adorned themselves in order to welcome the founding country of democracy in the European confederation.

      2… Please explain to me what you mean by austerity – policy.
      Example: :
      If we both operate a news-shop and we are going to make an everyday profit of 50 euros – but we both take daily 100 Euros from the cash – how long the shop will exist?

      3….There was a German Chancellor (Kohl) who really wanted that Greece is joining the euro – even though he knew that the economic foundations of Greece had falsified at date of accession. Was this behavior democratic?

      4…. Next question: The European institutions were not the last decision makers at the Greek crisis. – it were the European finance ministers and the government leaders of the countries of the European Community. Are they elected, too

  2. Why?

    Because, having fully betrayed the Greek people in spectacular style, this scoundrel now desperately seeks to shed the ‘leftish’ party ballast upon which he has climbed to power, in order to continue his career as a Troika agent.

    • Wrong. Greece voters will decide on 20 September.and the radical left wing parts of SYRIZA will split off to organize their own party. From this point on the radicals will be no longer relevant in Greek politics.

      Barbar – those who has no honest answers to problem will silently disappear – same thing as 1989. You didn`t learn anything about this? Probably not…………………..

      • What ‘radicals’? Do you mean the same frauds who voted to pass Tsipras’ austerity package through the parliament while blowing about how they implacably oppose that kind of thing?

        And what honest answers have you heard from the traitor Tsipras?

          • I am ‘so mad about Greece for’ because I lent Tsipras some money to go drinking sham’paggen one night and he has never paid it back.

            Why do you presume political honesty == anger?

            Where I live is immaterial to my argument, but in any case it is not in Greece.

            If Tsipras is a socialist, then no.

            • Barbar, you are personally a real curmudgeon? – but a political supporter of the idea of a debt union?
              You lack all sense of hospitality (otherwise you would have donated Tsipras a bottle of french champagne) but you condemn others to pay foreign debts?

              Obviously, you’re a real traditional socialist/communist as described in textbooks – you’ve already found someone paying your champagne – or are you still in search?

              • I am very agreeable towards anyone holding the same opinion as myself.

                I don’t support the idea of a ‘debt union’ and think the European Union is a fundamentally flawed political concept, mainly because it seeks to create by stealth and deception what it cannot state is the actual goal — a homogenised continent safe for Bankers and Yanki occupation armies, where the will of the majority population is largely ignored or circumvented.

                I am very hospitable and generous to a fault but dislike scroungers, hence the little joke about a €50 personal loan to Tsipras, which I still insist must be repaid!

                I don’t condemn others to pay odious and impossible debts — Greece should have repudiated its debt mountain and left the Euro already. Unfortunately, having actual balls was never part of the negotiating strategy of the pathetic Tsipras, which is why he has so spectacularly failed at everything but plunging the country into an even worse predicament instead.

                I pay for my own sham’paggen, thanks.

              • I’m guessing you’re either British or Canadian. Probably a British socialist given the way you talk about the EU and Greece. That would explain a lot. You’re obviously very riled up about Greece.

              • .Babarian ……………a homogenised continent safe for Bankers and Yanki occupation armies……………….

                Why is it not possible to make a civilized discussion with you? US army is leaving europe since long – you didn`t noticed? You are blind on your left eye? Putin plays war and he is killing european people – but you are talking about fairy tales about US?

                Btw – the other American troops – particularly in Poland and at the Baltic States have become necessary so that Putin is not about attracting more European countries with war.

                Greek: I believe you are more pathetic than Tsipras. More than 75% of Greek people want to keep the euro. Tsipras has also understood this matter of fact. But you didn`t – because democracy apparently doesn`t matters you?
                Stalin is dead since long – but you’re his nephew?

                EU: The predecessor of the European Union was the European Economic Community. In contrast, the European Union has the objective to introduce common social standards. With homogenization it has nothing to do – because you can`t compare EU with a bottle of milk which is homogenised. Is this understandable – or is it neccessary to explain it again? The EU principle is the free movement of its citizens – but if I work at austria, france ore italy there are different social standards.

                lack of hospitality: Tsipras has began his political activism at the age of 16 in the Communist Youth of Greece. One left principle is the international solidarity. – The question: why do you refuse (as a neo-stalinist) actually Tsipras a bottle of champagne?

                Your pettiness and stinginess is actually only one of many different reasons why your left ideology will not survive………………….

              • “I am very agreeable towards anyone holding the same opinion as myself.”

                Yeah… That doesn’t quite meet the definition of ‘agreeable’. It does however meet the definition of ‘totalitarianism’.

              • Why is it not possible to make a civilized discussion with you?” — It depends only on whether you want to.

                US army is leaving europe since long” — no, Freundchen, Yankis are never leaving until kicked out, same way as any other place they invaded. That’s not a fairy tale and only someone successfully brainwashed to reflexively blend out and deny the political purpose of the occupation army stationed in his own country could possibly claim otherwise.

                Why are European countries being primed for a war with Russia, contrary to their natural economic interests? — because these dummies are pushed by Yankis/Brits in order to keep them isolated and dependent on the imperial master.

                If 75% of Greeks want to be Euroslaves, it is only because they have for decades been misled to act against their own best interests, a phenomenon to which the fraud Tsipras does nothing but pander, while loyally wielding the chopper for his Troika owners.

                The purpose of the EEC/EU has always been to rope all non-Yanki occupied European countries into a quiescent NATO subjugation, otherwise it would never have been permitted by the Yanki overlords in the first place.

                Tsipras’ bucket of sham’paggen was a joke you failed to grasp. In any case, I don’t have solidarity with frauds and liars.

              • “”to make a civilized discussion””
                1. the discussion is about greece . The discussion isn`t about bullshit progaganda.

                “”fairy tales..””
                2. Second time: this thread is about Greece.

                “”European countries being primed…… “”
                3. There is no european country leading a war, Blödmann.
                The fact that you’re not telling that Russian Federation currently is killing Europeans makes you not credible ………..

                4. “75% of Greeks ………….”
                Now you told me that you are a antidemocrat – and a Putinlover surporting a massmurderer at Syria.
                You want to hide you neo – stalinist behavior with propaganda?

                5. Everybody loves the Nato – please have look to Finnlandia, Sweden, Danmark, Estonia, Polen etc.
                Even Ukraine wants to be a partner of Nato.
                Bloodthirsty neo-stalinist like you do not get along without propganda.
                Your last comment is the prove.

                6. You told me that your champagne story was a joke?
                Look – the point in Internet discussion isn`t what you have done in reality. – Because nobody can prove what you have done or not. In internet the only thing is what you have said and what you are writing . And you wrote that you like
                stinginess – but denying Tsipras a conversation with champagne.

                It’s enough to classify you as a neo-Stalinists – who wants only to make propaganda

    • Dear Nato-Comrade Gunny, du nix verstanden, Schnellmerker?

      1. The discussion has moved on to how you have been sadly brainwashed to deny Germany is a Yanki-occupied and politically subjugated country.

      2. I feel pity for you but hope to effect a cure by careful deprogramming.

      3. “There is no european country leading a war — Yes, that’s exactly the problem: instead these dumb slaves like Merkel are being led/pushed into wars which suit only the purposes of their post-WW2 occupiers and objective political enemies, who you with child-like naiveté will probably call ‘allies’.

      4. “The fact that you’re not telling that Russian Federation currently is killing Europeans makes you not credible — Does not compute, can you please explain the bankrupt ‘logic’ here?

      5. “Now you told me that you are a antidemocrat – and a Putinlover surporting a massmurderer at Syria.” — Nonsense, where did I indicate any of that? Only a tragically fractured reasoning can lead to these illogical conclusions.

      6. “Everybody loves the NATO” — LOL, that’s priceless … how do you come up with these crackers? But actually, newsflash for you here, most Europeans hate NATO’s warcriminal guts.

      7. “You wrote that you like stinginess” — No, the opposite actually. You seem to have a poor short term memory. Perhaps learn to read back before concocting such silly lies in your head.

      8. It’s enough to classify you … — Enough for what? How about completing a thought before hopping on to the next disjointed half-sentence?

        • 1. You are brainwashed? – unable to describe clear thoughts?
          Please go to the doctor – but don`t expect that you can get any help there,

          2. One more time please, don`t give up. One day you will be able
          to formulate even difficult thoughts clearly. Best to you …..

          3. There is no european country leading a war – except Russia.
          Logic isn`t your strong point? The above sentence isn`t to difficult – read it again old chap – you will make it one day – Iam sure….

          4, Russians are currently killing Europeans.
          Also a very clear but easy sentence – put your haed into a washingmachine and wait until the clock strikes 4-
          If you after your brainwashing don`t get the contents of this sentence please try it again.

          5. You are distributing meaningless and incoherent propaganda as well as horses dung. Democrats are using arguments – and what the hell – you are using?

          6. Danemark, Sweden, Ukraine, Baltikum; Norweg – Polen all the states and other are keen working together with the Nato.
          Second time I am answer this question – am I mistaken or are you really too stupid to understand it at the first time?

          7. -stinginess-
          Someone who is lying one time after the other is implausible for ever.

          8. –It’s enough to classify you–
          someone who gets stuck in its own propaganda is ridiculous

          Best to you – fishy Barbarian

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