Tsipras’ Second Round: Europe could Sleep Safely Now

He has failed to deliver what he promised the first time. Can Alexis Tsipras now come up with a new plan and become the unexpected hero Europe had never asked for? By Alexandros Semeloglou

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Translating the latest electoral victory of Syriza into a robust political message from the Greek voters hasn’t been an easy task for commentators in Europe and Greece. Even Alexis Tsipras himself might not have expected such a sound win over his major opponent, Vagelis Meimarakis, leader of New Democracy conservatives.

However, it’s not the first time that pollsters fail to predict an electoral result, especially in a highy emotional political landscape. The news might have come as a surprise for some Eurozone politicians as well, who witnessed Tsipras signing the bailout deal for Greece last July, a program the young politician had categorically denounced during his campaign only a few months earlier.

This impressive support for Tsipras’ political personality, gives him a great second chance to prove that if somebody’s got to do the dirty job, he should be the one.

After having surrendered to the demands of Greece’s lenders, namely the European Commission, the IMF and the ECB, and amid capital controls, imposed for the first time in the country’s modern history making lives of business-owners much harder, this victory seems to have been achieved against all odds.

The opponents of austerity in Greece, despite having many reasons to turn their back on Syriza’s inconsistent message, found themselves with no other realistic alternative. Unless the neo-fascist Golden Dawn, the Communist Party and the remains of a leftist former Syriza branch detached from the party and advocating for return to the “new drachma”, could be considered as such.

Tsipras newThis impressive support for Tsipras’ political personality, gives him a second chance to prove that if somebody’s got to do the dirty job, he should be the one. The Greek Prime Minister can now make use of his political capital to implement a controversial program, mainly for two reasons: first, in order to bring back to the crisis-hit country to relative economic stability, and, secondly, to hold his European partners to their promise to keep financial aid coming until this so-called “Eurocrisis” chapter is officially closed.

Pushing through tough reforms on an economy which, has seen incomes shrinking up to 40% is a far from manageable task

The latter, is Tsipras’s most crucial mission during his next term. On the one hand, he will have to convince his partners in the Eurozone that he will do whatever it takes to implement a financial program he never believed in, in order to rebuild credibility. On the other hand, pushing through tough reforms on an economy which, has seen incomes shrinking up to 40% is an impossible task. His position gets worst if one considers the Syriza leader’s extremely limited room for manoeuvres. It is considered to be a certainty that the newly formed Greek government won’t get through any reforms without hard resistance. However, the leftist leader could emerge as a winner if he can manage to minimize the costs of this new austerity package for Greek society’s most vulnerable groups.

The latest episodes in Brussels have shown that Alexis Tsipras’ biggest troubles came from the European level. The safest way to escape the dead-end conflict that pits the EU against Greece, would be to search for solutions in Brussels. The answers to the Greece’s problems can only come from the European Institutions. This necessitates a common realisation that the Eurocrisis is a systemic failure, and that the Greek debt is merely a manifestation of this problem.

Alexis Tsipras appears to be aware of that. Acknowledging that the fight for a new Europe can only succeed if it is actually fought in the European context with European allies, might provide him a large win: He will be the first left-wing leader in the EU who made it through the crisis. Now it is time to push onward, not only for the sake of his home country but for the sake of Europe as a whole.

Image: “Alexis Tsipras” by AFP. Published via Twitter under Creative Commons License 2.0.

Image: “Alexis Tsipras” by Michael Debets/debetsphotography.com. Published via Flickr under Creative Commons License 2.0.

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