August 19, 2015
For the time being, snap elections is the worst case scenario for most members of the Greek government, the opposition, the business world. The biggest part of the electorate is hugely disappointed with the performance of the Greek government so far (i.e. see nationwide poll of Bridging Europe), especially after the government capitulated to the demands of the creditors and agreed on a third bailout deal on July 12. Nonetheless, PM Tsipras close entourage is strongly suggesting for this option for a number of reasons.
1. The Greek opposition is distorted and electorally weak
Front opposition New Democracy and the other two pro-European parties, The River and PASOK, cannot capitalize on Syriza’s internal rupture after the decision to adopt a new rescue package as all three have voted in favor of a third bailout. In addition to that, New Democracy and PASOK, while having overcome leadership issues, have been blamed for their incapacity to bring about structural reforms in Greece during the past five years and have lost credibility and trust. Leading figures of the three political parties call for reshuffle in order to widen the current support to PM Tsipras and jump in the government without passing though elections.
2. The Left Platform does not have time to become independent party
Syriza’s dissenters are mostly gathered around the Left Platform led by former Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis. Their appeal and influence inside the party is growing more and more and it is expected that if extraordinary Congress is held, Tsipras team would lose significant support, and then a leadership issue would rise. Snap elections in late September or beginning of October do not leave time for the Platform to re-organize its committees and step down as independent party. Therefore, whatever their electoral strength might be, it would be split towards other minor parties and formations of extreme Left, like ANTARSYA or Plan B, the political movement of former Syriza leader Alekos Alavanos.
3. Snap elections leave PM Tsipras free of Syriza’s internal imbalances
The Greek law is clear on snap elections that are held before 18 months have been passed since the last elections. Last elections were held in January 2015, so if there is a new round in September or October, PM Tsipras has room for political maneuver as he is obliged to build a list for his party candidate MPs, leaving outside the play all dissenters, like Lafazanis, Konstantopoulou or Varoufakis. This gives him a great advantage to finish up with all these current MPs that are pulling the carpet below his feet since he decided to agree on a new bailout deal and to choose those MPs that strongly support him as well as other politicians or members of the party that during these turbulent couple of months are lobbying in favor of his decisions.
4. PM Tsipras counts on endorsement by most of systemic media
Prime Minister is fully aware that he enjoys support from systemic media for two major reasons: the first is that he delays to finish up things with the corrupted media landscape in Greece, leaving untouched media tycoons that all along during the previous months, even before January elections, were fiercely criticizing him and his government; the second is that he wants support from them to build on its popularity among the Greek society and build on the narrative of a young leader that he is willing to work hard to pull the country out of recession. In addition to that, he is also counting on debt discussions to kick-start in October as the ultimate proof that his government really achieved to bring this hot issue in the main negotiation table.
5. PM Tsipras knows that disappointment against his government will soon grow
Now it is the sun-and-beach mode for Greece and most of the people have left concerns aside. Beginning from September, and the first, additional wage and pension cuts, social grievance is about to grow. Meanwhile, the market is already heavily squeezed by capital controls and a mounting distrust over the banking sector. Increase of VAT to 23% is already leaving its marks on the consumption side, and it is certain that lower income along with further taxation of goods will create a tumultuous mix. From that point onwards, PM’s popularity will start dwindling fastly and he will no longer be able to have the upper hand and define any strategic move with the ease he is doing it right now.
To contact the author Dimitris Rapidis:
Twitter: @rapidisAuthor : Dimitris Rapidis