September 10, 2015
Many were expecting that this debate last night would be extremely boring. They were right as all political leaders had nothing fresh to offer in the discussion. Nonetheless, even in this stiff depiction of Greek political life, we can come to some useful conclusions.
After a first reading, each one of the political leaders seemed very relaxed, paradoxically relaxed to be honest, given the circumstances and the fuzzy landscape of the polls. Tsipras and Meimarakis gave the impression that they really did not care of strengthening their appeal, remaining focused on solely addressing party audiences, whereas Lafazanis, leader of the Popular Unity, made no effort to embark on his pro-drachma program in detail. To Potami leader Theodorakis, while feeling more comfortable than anyone else, considering that he was a well-known journalist before founding his party, failed to present his party reformist agenda and convince on his insistence to become coalition partner in the next government. Independent Greeks leader Kammenos focused on his firm intention to cooperate with Syriza after elections, and he was repeatedly criticizing the “failed political system” and its associated parties, New Democracy and PASOK, doing the “dirty job” on behalf of Tsipras. Communist Party leader Koutsoumbas was calm and interactive -i.e. a really rare thing for a leader of communist left- making funny jokes when the discussion was deviating towards Marxism and Leninism. Finally, PASOK leader Gennimata was a big disaster, trying to present herself as a fresh political figure without any correlation with her party’s economic scandals and failed policies, reading her answers through the monitor.
After a second reading, we have some observations to make. Tsipras was feeling at ease on migration and foreign affairs topics, defending clearly and with arguments his government deeds. Meimarakis did not make his lines clear on any of the topics, kept repeating that his party, New Democracy, is the only one that can efficiently govern Greece. He also made a number of huge strategic mistakes: for the first time, on his effort to defend his party legacy between 2012-2014, he emphasized on the fact that New Democracy could not do as much as it wanted in domestic politics because snap elections occurred. He also stated that it would be better for the next government to be unipartite -i.e. meaning the first party reaching absolute majority- distancing himself from the prospect of coalition government. In addition, he stated he would positive to a military intervention in Syria under NATO umbrella, while being firm that deterrence politics in dealing with the refugee crisis could be more efficient.
Most of the journalists (7 in number as well) favored Independent Greeks leader Kammenos with their questions, making it simpler for him to avoid answering on specific topics. At the same time, Popular Unity Lafazanis was repeating that return to national currency is the only way for Greece to breath, for the youth to stay aboard and control brain-drain, while defending his policy on rapprochment with Russia on the energy issue. In this point, both Tsipras and Lafazanis had the same stance: that Greece needs to diversify its sources, investments, strategic and political alliances in a multi-polar world.
As a final remark, it is certain that this debate is not going to define voting turnout nor convince the biggest part of undecided voters. Next week there is a second round, with Tsipras and Meimarakis. In this one, there is a chance to observe a more concrete effect on parties’ integration status. But essentially, and based on our polls and experience, it is very likely that most undecided voters will decide who to support at the very last moment, in front of the ballot box on September 20.
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