October 20, 2013
For the first time since last elections on May and June 2012, Mr. Alexis Tsipras can look forward to addressing the Greek electorate with more relish than dread. His party does love him and its members, despite still being relatively mingled between populism and constructive rhetoric, have not forgotten his strive for accommodating all concerns addressed in the party’s inaugural Congress last July. Part of the entrepreneurs trust him, as another part distrust him. Part of MPs, especially those whose rhetoric seems to confuse the public, resent his small circle of well-heeled advisors. Yet the public likes a winner.
Reasons to be happy
Mr. Tsipras’s prospects are looking up. The question is whether an able but sometimes complacent man will seize his chance to be the radical left-centrist he once promised to be when he achieved to rise his party’s electoral polls from 4% to 26% one year ago.
The president of front opposition has three reasons to be happy. The first is an improving electoral rate for his party. In a recent study by a pollster a couple of weeks ago SYRIZA increased its rate in the second department of Athens – the most populated in the country and the one that gives the win to elections- surpassing the governing party of New Democracy by 7%. After a longtime of balanced, and even decreased rates in a 12-month period since last elections, his party seems to regain the momentum in a period where economic turbulence and downturn reach an all-three year limit. Second, the European Left Party, member of which is SYRIZA, has decided to nominate Mr. Tsipras as candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission in the view of the European elections next May. Undoubtedly this nomination, which is expected to be officially announced by December, gives Mr. Tsipras a European leverage, along with the direct effect that such nomination will have in domestic politics. Third, Mr. Tsipras has widespread support amongst both the Greek electorate and the leaders of the European Union, having already established ties with key figures of the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank. The European Left is counting on his appeal in order to bring significant changes in European politics, starting from the forthcoming elections in the European Parliament.
This is the basis of, at least, a decent record. It has, moreover, been achieved at the helm of a strongly multifaceted political party and politics in historically hard times. That takes real leadership. The upshot is that during the years of SYRIZA very few voters have been trusted their support to the party, and it was only in 2008 and then in 2012 that Mr. Tsipras achieved to increase the electoral appeal of his party, heading but a close mark to win the previous elections. In addition, it is no coincidence that left parties in Europe increase their rates respectively, from France to Germany, and from Luxembourg to Portugal, building their support on the ways outside austerity politics.
The unclaimed centre
The major scope for Mr. Tsipras in the months to come is to increase support from significant parts of the centre that either abstain regularly from elections or have found shelter to extreme right in order to condemn mainstream politics in Greece. There is always the vision to absorb the people left to disappointedly vote for PASOK as well as other leftist groups that are not represented in the Parliament. In the contrary, what seems to be abandoned is the idea to approach the Communist Party in a post-electoral discussion and cooperation as the latter seems stuck to its all-negation policy against everything that seems European. Mr. Tsipras wants Greece to be a vital part of the European Union, but also to be a strong adverse against more austerity in Eurozone. Since his appearance in mainstream politics, when Mr. Tsipras has been brave, it has served him well.Dimitris Rapidis