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Tsipras Is the Absolute Master of the Game of Greek Politics…..for Now

tsip708_14The election process that was just completed was the most absurd in Greece’s modern political history. The party leaders who participated knew that there was a very hot potato waiting for them after the ballot . At the same time voters knew that none of the candidates could deliver all the wonderful things they promised.
No wonder then, that those who abstained from voting broke the record. This time 43.91 percent of Greeks decided that it wasn’t worth the bother to go vote “for those crooks,” as an elderly gentleman told a reporter. Not to mention that Sunday, September 20 was a beautiful summer day and the sea was magnificent.
Yet, Alexis Tsipras came out of all this with a wide grin on his face. He was the prime minister who brought the harshest bailout deal of the three, he shut down banks for three weeks and imposed capital controls until the end of the year, he ignored the 62 percent of Greeks who voted against austerity in the July referendum, he appointed several inexperienced and incompetent ministers, he used security fund reserves to cover state needs, he was unprepared to deal with the refugee issue, he admitted ignorance on how the world of finance and banking operates. Most importantly he didn’t do the two main things that brought him to power: to eliminate the bailout memoranda and achieve a debt haircut. He did none of this, of course.
Nevertheless, all he lost for his mismanagement, his mistakes  and false promises was one percentage point! Greek people gave him their vote again. Gave him a second chance.
What Tsipras managed to do though was to get rid of the extremist deadweight in his party. Panagiotis Lafazanis and Zoe Konstantopoulou are history, along with all the SYRIZA rebels who believed that a rift with Europe, bankruptcy and the return to the drachma would cure Greece’s social and economic ills.Tsipras kept all the MPs who were loyal to him and now he can pass all the reforms and measures the third bailout agreement requires.
Tsipras proved to be a great tactician. Methodically, he got the party rebels off his back. Then he twisted all his presumed mistakes and mismanagement and turned them into achievements. When he signed the austerity bailout agreement, he said he did it to save Greece. He avoided the tag of the inexperienced by saying that he gained lots of experience during his short premiership. He covered his failure to tackle tax evasion or corruption by saying he was too busy with debt negotiations.
As for the timing of the snap elections, that was also part of his genius strategy. The bills from the tax office will arrive at Greek homes after the victory celebrations and the party flag waving. The new, higher taxes, the new VAT for Aegean Sea islands, the ENFIA property tax — which Tsipras had promised to abolish when in the opposition seat —  are due to be paid starting September 30.
Finally, Tsipras managed to make his name a brand name. Throughout his campaign he used the words “SYRIZA” and “Left” very sparingly, unlike he did in the past. Now he is the party, he is the ruler, the absolute master of the game of Greek politics.

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