Dangerous Seas

2015 February 10

So, what does the election of the, allegedly, radical left wing, SYRIZA mean?

“The sovereign Greek people today have given a clear, strong, indisputable mandate, Greece has turned a page. Greece is leaving behind the destructive austerity, fear and authoritarianism. It is leaving behind five years of humiliation and pain.” — PM Alexis Tsipras, 25 January 2015

Other than business casual dress in Syntagma, it’s too soon to tell.

There has been much rhetoric, at least, which gives the Greek people some relief that their government is finally echoing their sentiments – that austerity is paupering them; that Greeks would prefer a representative of their interests, rather than the troika or Northern Europe; and that the status quo is unsustainable – this fact was recognized by some in Europe, noting that Greeks have a government again, rather than an envoy from Berlin. However, the excitement of campaigning, election night, and victory speeches is over and SYRIZA, in the person of Alexis Tsipras, now has the task of sailing the Ship of State.

In the short time since his ascendance to Prime Minister, Tsipras has both rocked the boat and shied away from shoals which have harassed Hellas since 2008; he has refused to wear a tie, noting that he will don the neckwear gifted him by the Italian PM once Greece’s issues are solved; he has rocketed a Finance Minister to rock star status; he has rattled the scabbards declaring that austerity is over and “hope has returned;” but it seems he may not have the courage of his convictions. It seems that he has no sabers in his scabbards and Europe seems to have guessed that to be true. In all of the announcements about what is going to change in Greece and in dealings with the troika, the Eurozone has, ironically, replied with a firm, “OXI!”

The reaction of PM Tsipras? A course correction, to be announced tomorrow, that Greece will honor most of the austerity provisions attached to the bail out funding, stressing that Greece does not wish to leave, and will not be, ejected from the Eurozone, and an overall change in tone from one of populist defiance to one of acquiescence and contrition for having deigned to call for Greece to rise to her full height in the family of nations.

For the first time in many years, Greeks thought they were getting something different and actually demonstrated in Syntagma Square IN SUPPORT of their government and its dealings.  The PM appears to be squandering that good will.

While I certainly understand pragmatism may need to prevail, the only radical thing from SYRIZA since taking office seems to be how quickly they have faltered and returned to the safety of the coastline, holding to the line offered by Europe. Governing is certainly different than running – after all, how else could candidates win without promising more than they are certain they can deliver; campaigns are both aspirational and, hopefully, inspirational. The problem Mr. Tsipras and SYRIZA face, however, is that Greeks have been inspired by SYRIZA’s defiance. Greeks also aspire to see SYRIZA fulfill the mandate promised during the campaign, which led them to believe that something different was in the offing.

Sometimes, one must leave the safety of the shore.

It is said that there is nothing more dangerous than a person (or People) with nothing left to lose, Mr. Tsipras knows that; but he appears to have come down on the side of those who have vastly more to lose than the Greeks who continue their trudge through a long, cold winter – on dangerous seas.



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