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Snap Elections in Greece? Oh, Not Again!

1It seems that bailout deals kill Greek governments. The new agreement just voted in Greek Parliament seems it has just killed “the first leftist government” in the country’s history. Or shall we call it a Memorandum?
OK then, the first Memorandum in 2010 killed the George Papandreou administration. The second bailout deal in 2012 finished the Samaras-Venizelos unholy coalition two years later. Now, the third bailout seems to start putting the first nails on the coffin of the leftist SYRIZA rule as we know it.
Like New Democracy MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis said before the vote, “SYRIZA promised to tear up the Memoranda. Now the Memoranda are tearing up SYRIZA.”
Next week it is extremely likely that Alexis Tsipras will ask for a confidence vote in Greek Parliament. It is certain he will not get it. Coming out of the Parliament after the vote, New Democracy lawmaker Makis Voridis said outright that there is no way the opposition party will give Tsipras a vote of confidence. The opposition claimed the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition failed abysmally in negotiations and brought a Memorandum full of harsh, recessionary reforms that the Greek people will hardly be able to shoulder.
But most of all, the three pro-Europe opposition parties stated the obvious: The government has not governed in seven months.
The SYRIZA-ANEL coalition cabinet is an odd mixture of unionists, salaried party members, unemployed, journalists, lawyers, and overall people with no experience in government. Adding to the lack of skills and experience their obsessive leftist ideology, they spent seven months in ministerial chairs trying to prove how leftist they are. They never governed. They appointed their friends and relatives in high positions, gave raises to the powerful Public Power Corporation (PPC) unionists who helped them win the elections, conducted several acts full of symbolism (reopening the public broadcaster ERT, rehiring the Finance Ministry cleaners), but in essence, they didn’t govern.
And what does a party that cannot govern do? Go to elections. Enjoy the rush of winning without doing anything.
If indeed Alexis Tsipras asks for a vote of confidence, he will not get it and he will go to snap elections. Without the 43 SYRIZA MPs who voted against the bailout deal. On the road to reality, the Greek Prime Minister lost his dreamer comrades. Those who chose to stay with him have realized that even a leftist government needs funds to do the wonderful things they promise to people.
Most probably, the famous SYRIZA Left Platform, under the leadership of Panagiotis Lafazanis, will form a new party: The drachma SYRIZA, the anti-memorandum SYRIZA, or whatever it will be called. If they do so, they will most likely get one-digit percentages in the forthcoming elections. They count on the 62% who voted “No” in the referendum but they have misinterpreted it. The days of riding Tsipras’ coattails are over and they will find out the hard way on election day.
Zoe Konstantopoulou, the other big SYRIZA rebel, has stated that she will not support Tsipras again. More likely she will form her own party too. She can’t go with Lafazanis because she wants to be a leader and the former Energy Minister has ambitions to be a party leader too.
However, the rebellion of the Left Platform has enhanced the popularity of Tsipras among those who voted SYRIZA as a protest against the austerity brought by the New Democracy-PASOK coalition. The conservative SYRIZA voters will now see a more conservative Tsipras who truly cares for Greece and is not the extreme leftist the opposition tried to portray him as. In the last few days, a lot of party members changed course as well and appeared more realistic and more conventional in their political beliefs.
Tsipras also won many points during negotiations for travelling every other day in Brussels to negotiate with EU leaders and officials. He looked like he worked a lot. He convinced people that he actually negotiated when in fact all he was doing was theorizing. He even managed to downplay the austerity measures he eventually brought to Greek people by putting the blame on creditors. He cleverly stirred public opinion against the “bad Germans” and appeared like a hero in the end.
If elections are to be held tomorrow though, the Tsipras SYRIZA will easily win. Despite his many shortcomings, Tsipras is still fresh; he doesn’t carry the stigma of the corrupt politicians of the past 40 years, when New Democracy and PASOK were alternating in government, wallowing in clientelism, nepotism and sheer indifference and inadequacy. The Greek Prime Minister also has the advantage of youth. He can easily sway the country’s young his way.
The proof of that is that even when he shut down the banks and had people standing in line to get a measly 60 euros of their own money each day, the polls were still showing him leading easily over burnt-out New Democracy.
Nevertheless, elections in September would mean roughly two months of government absence and another 3 billion euros lost in Greece’s economy. It could also mean a new bailout to recover the election costs.
The sensible, and honorable, thing to do right now is, for the first time ever, all pro-Europe political parties should realize that this is no time for petty politics and must get together to form an all-party government that will carry through the three years of reforms. Then sit down with European partners and discuss debt relief. And maybe one day this country will have a normal economy.
If all that seems like a lot of work to Greek politicians, then elections is the sure way to postpone the inevitable for a few months.

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