It seems that the “moment of truth” has arrived for the government of Alexis Tsipras and also for the entire political system in Greece. The new scenery that emerged from last fall’s elections is dangerously creaking and this is evident due to the following:
First, the obvious, hard stance of Greece’s “Quartet” of lenders, that is asking for the reduction of pensions and rejects any equivalent measures, including the increase of the employers’ contributions to pensions and additional taxes. The Employers’ Unions (SEV, ESEE) have already agreed to increase their contributions, but the “Quartet’s” persistence can only mean one thing: Ongoing austerity and minimum chances for the Greek economy to show signs of recovery. The reason is simple and obvious: A capital system cannot continue to exist, if demand drops to a minimum level. A new decrease in pensions –the 12th since 2010 – will bring hundreds of thousands of Greeks into poverty (in addition to those that already live in poverty).
A second sign of a possible political overturn is the Prime Minister’s recent moves. Last week he convened for hours with the members of SYRIZA’s Political Secretariat. Labour Minister Yiorgos Katrougalos also held an extensive meeting with the government’s Parliamentary group on the new pension reform scheme. The same afternoon Alexis Tsipras met with the President of PASOK, Fofi Genimmata. What could that mean?
First, there is a chance that the Prime Minister is preparing his MPs and his party’s mechanism for a possible government resignation, in case Greece’s lenders insist on their unacceptable demands. Second, he is preparing for the possibility of general elections in case, after the government’s resignation, the Parliament is not able to support the formation of a new government.
The situation is getting more complicated, as the newly appointed New Democracy president, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced that he doesn’t want to proceed with general elections, while he rejects any plans for a National Unity government.
It is no coincidence that farmers, certain groups of professionals and mass media owners continue their intense conflict with the government. Meanwhile former Parliament President Zoe Konstandopoulou is “denouncing” Mr Tsipras, for the way he dealt with the July 2015 referendum and the bailout negotiations with Europe. It is apparent that Zoe Konstandopoulou is pursuing the Prime Minister’s degradation, amid a hard – for the government and the country – debate with the lenders.
So, what is going to happen? No one can say for sure. The situation is getting more complicated, as the newly appointed New Democracy president, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced that he doesn’t want to proceed with general elections, while he rejects any plans for a National Unity government. In other words this means, he’d prefer that the government of Alexis Tsipras continues for a little while longer, in order to implement new austerity measures, then proceed with general elections, that the New Democracy would have the chance of winning. It seems too good to be true! Greek politics is like a chess game, mainly due to internal and external factors.
Meanwhile the leadership of the European Union seems disorientated due to a fear syndrome, apathy and denial of the obvious. The Eurozone is continuing its operation based on fiscal policies, amid a series of political and geopolitical problems.
*Konstantinos M. Pantzios is a journalist and a political analyst
PHOTO: Alexis Tsipras’ facebook page (“Supporting Syria and the Region” conference, February 2015 – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu).