February 28, 2021

Tsipras, the implosion of the dream that believed that David could defeat Goliath

January 2015: Syriza achieves what only a few years ago seemed impossible, a radical left formation assumes the helm of a country. Alexis Tsipras becomes the hope of a citizenship exhausted after years of austerity and also of a European left eternally fragmented and therefore weak.

May 2019: Syriza suffers a setback in the European and local elections and remains almost ten points behind New Democracy, the formation of all life, the political clans that both the Greeks hated.

But what happened so that this could happen?

Although Tsipras won the elections with a left-wing program, the Greeks did not vote for him because they had suddenly become Marxists, but because he gave them back something they had lost under the tutelage of the creditors: dignity. The people and the government itself believed that David could beat Goliath.

Six months and stormy meetings later, Tsipras claudicaba and assumed that with a left program could win elections but not govern when you have the rope around your neck and capital controls have been applied to avoid financial bloodshed.

Instead of renegotiating the debt, stopping the process of privatization of state companies, avoiding new pension cuts and restoring the minimum wage, the leftist leader signed a third financial bailout, less large (86,000 million euros) than the previous ones but not because it less painful.

Tsipras justified this diametral turn with the argument that he wanted to avoid the "collective suicide" of the country, and that instead of "escaping" (leaving the euro), the government had opted to "face reality".

But the signing of the rescue led to the implosion of Syriza and Tsipras had to call new elections. Although the disenchantment had begun to spread again among the citizens, they gave it a second chance. They wanted to see if, even within the corset dictated by Brussels and Washington (International Monetary Fund), was able to implement the social policy that was still promising.

Time has shown that it was not, and to be the "enfant terrible" of Europe Tsipras became an applied student of institutions.

Some of the objectives set by the creditors have not been met, such as the privatization program, or part of the modernization of the Administration, but in return, Greece has exceeded the fiscal objectives in recent years.

Greece is not a progressive country. The majority of the population even has conservative customs, but the citizens had entrusted their destiny to a Marxist – at least in his political beginnings, Tsipras was – because they believed that he would make a chimera a reality.

Also on the European left – Podemos, Izquierda Unida, Sinn Fein, etc. – their victory had made them believe that it was possible to impose themselves on the power of capital and apply a radical social model.

Four years later, the European left prefers not to speak of Tsipras anymore, and the Greek citizens have only been left with anger.

The general feeling is that in the end everything is always the same, that whoever wins the bill pays the average citizen.

From there it is explained that in May the conservative New Democracy could take almost ten points of advantage to Syriza. The population wanted to pass bill to Tsipras for unfulfilled promises, even if they were giving their vote to a neoliberal model. Those who did not want to go that far, preferred to stay at home and abstain.

What analysis does Syriza do of this defeat?

The first balance after the defeat of May, which left the party speechless, was indirectly blaming the citizens themselves, for not knowing how to appreciate the change of direction that the Government has given after the rescue, with the approval of measures that evoke the genuine program of Syriza: the reestablishment of collective agreements, the rise in the minimum wage, the lowering of VAT, or the revocation of a new pension reduction.

They say in the training that that has led to a large majority of those who voted for Syriza in 2015 this time opted not to go to the polls (the party only managed to mobilize 58% of those voters).

Meanwhile, Tsipras has acknowledged that there were actions of his policy that did not meet expectations and that it is necessary to change many things. To this, he says, is added the accumulated fatigue of so many years under the tutelage of the creditors.

Despite what the polls say, he remains confident of reversing the result. "The Greeks can not forget who caused the crisis, who did not manage it and destroyed the economy and society, and who took the country out of the quagmire and humiliation," he said these days.

But the reality is that, barring miracles, Syriza must get used to the idea that from July 7 it will go back to opposition. Its main objective will be to avoid becoming once again a marginal formation or, as New Democracy says, in a brief episode of history.

Ingrid Haack

(tagsToTranslate) Tsipras (t) implosion (t) David (t) beat (t) Goliath

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