September 23, 2015
Syriza won for a third time in a row during 2015. The first time was last January, the second in July’s referendum with the resounding “No”, and now on September 20. In Bridging Europe, already since late August, we have predicted the turnout, depicting the margin of Syriza between 5-7%. But what were these elements that led to this clear win last Sunday?
The first reason was that Syriza and his PM Tsipras negotiated with the creditors for seven months. This has happened for the first time since 2010 and the first bailout deal. No other government had previously risked to bring things at the edge, forcing the closure of the banks and the imposition of capital controls. Numbers are clear: Between February and July, the Greek issue monopolized 8 EUCO summits, 20 Eurogroup summits, stirred continuous meetings between Chancellor Merkel, President Holland and IMF Director Lagarde, generated many phone calls between EU leaders and US President Obama, caused insanity in the global media. Syriza passed the message that did its best to bring a better deal, but it finally capitulated. A big part of the Greek electorate admitted and acknowledged the efforts of the government and decided to back Syriza and Tsipras for a second time.
The second reason was that Tsipras achieved to become sympathetic because all EU leaders and the opposition in Greece were against him. When the Greek government finally capitulated, feelings of recognition prevailed over feelings of mercy. All over Europe and Greece, many believed that Eurozone staged a “coup” in the country. The well-know hashtag on Twitter #ThisIsACoup was indicative and massively popular at that time.
The third reason was that citizens believed Syriza could not do much more in domestic politics given the exhaustion tenuous negotiations. Seven months were not enough to have an opinion on Syriza’s deeds and capacity to govern, and therefore a second chance was needed. This feeling was intensified when Tsipras pledged after the deal and during his campaign that, if elected, he will fight to amend the current deal and protect the most vulnerable and hugely-affected parts of the Greek society. At the same time, all opposition leaders did nothing more than fiercely critisizing Tsipras from the first day in office , being willing to implement whatever actions and measures the bailout deal would include. All pro-European parties in Greece went against the social feelings and missed to interpret that Greeks were fed up and exhausted by continuous austerity. On the contrary, Tsipras left the door open stating there is room for renegotiation.
The fourth reason was that Tsipras was the only PM that admitted his strategic faults during the negotiation and the wrong decisions he made with the people involved in the negotiation process. People tend to admire politicians that behave like human beings, demonstrating their weak points and addressing the public with sincerity and honesty. And this is what Tsipras did irrespective of all previous PMs that were certain they were always right in their judgement, but something was always and accidentally wrong in the end.
The fifth reason was that Tsipras never criticized his comrades that left Syriza and formed Popular Unity, remaining calm and peaceful. He therefore achieved to receive endorsement from many leaders of the European Left at a time when Syriza dissenters could not articulate a convincing rhetoric against austerity. Notwithstanding, the drachma scenario was never discussed, properly and publicly, therefore causing anxiety in Syriza voters that finally preferred to support Syriza, despite initially favoring Popular Unity.
The sixth and last reason was that all major political opponents failed to convince the public that they had an alternative policy. No fresh ideas, no will to understand the deep concerns of the society, no efforts to assist in the fight against corruption and tax evasion in Greece. In this respect, the role of media was again essential for the people to finally endorse Tsipras: All mainstream media were fighting Syriza and Tsipras for the wrongdoings of the past seven months, cooperating as the same time with the very same polling firms that were totally wrong in their estimates on January elections and the referendum. These companies, for a third time in a year, failed to depict the trends of the Greek society, giving the image that the race was neck to neck. Tsipras took absolute advantage of all that and secured another win.
To contact the author Dimitris Rapidis:
Twitter: @rapidisDimitris Rapidis