WASHINGTON – The sovereign people of Greece, in their wisdom, just decided to give another chance to Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza-led government. And what is the political mandate?
New mandate for Syriza
Well, the new mandate is to implement the draconian austerity pact that Tsipras agreed to earlier on with Brussels. So, is Syriza now pro-austerity? Well, it did not use to be. In fact, it won an earlier election on a platform that strongly opposed most of the austerity measures agreed to by the previous New Democracy conservative government.
The story is complicated
Now, let see if we can clarify all this. Tsipras won a previous national elections with a pledge to renegotiate the entire austerity/loans package with the EU/ECB/IMF. The negotiations were difficult, in fact messy. In the end, Tsipras fired his Finance Minister, (apparently to please Brussels). The EU finally came up with a “take it or leave it” package, which included lots of painful stuff (spending cuts, smaller pension, etc.). Tsipras did not like this at all. He ordered a referendum on the package, inviting Greek citizens to vote “No”. The vote was held. The “No” people won –by a huge margin.
And then, what? Well, then Tsipras, after a lot of noise, accepted, yes, accepted, another huge rescue package –with even more onerous conditions for Greece than the one he urged his countrymen to vote against in the referendum.
(Are you with me, so far?)
And who will implement this package on the Greek side? Aware of major dissent within his own Syriza ranks, Tsipras dissolved parliament and ordered new elections.
And what did the Greeks do? Did they vote Tsipras out of office, as he is manifestly guilty of having turned sides on the critical austerity issue? Again, please remember that the Greeks had previously voted for him precisely because he was the leader of the most strident anti-austerity party. Later on, they followed his wishes and voted “No” on the referendum on the package that the evil EU wanted to impose on Greece.
Given all this, what did the Greeks do? They voted for Syriza, his party. And so Tsipras is again Prime Minister. Except that his program is now the opposite of the one that got him elected the first time.
Anti-austerity is now pro-austerity
So, here we go. The anti-austerity party is now pro-austerity. The Greeks were vehemently opposed to more fiscal pain when it was administered by a center right government. But now that even more brutal measures have been agreed to by a leftist government, the whole thing all of a sudden becomes acceptable.
This is a farce
If you think that this looks like the plot of a Hollywood farce, you are right.
In fact, it is a farce.
The entire Greek leadership is a farce. The EU leadership that actually believes to have “solved” the never-ending Greek crisis is a farce. And the Greeks who brought this calamity upon themselves are both actors and spectators in the same farce.
The only thing is that, in reality, while some aspects of this story are indeed comical, there will be real suffering in a hapless country run mostly by thieves, ideologues, and clueless amateurs.