June 26, 2018
The Macedonia name dispute has been dealt successfully with the Prespa agreement after a 26-year-old deadlock, and debt relief has been secured with the decision of the Eurogroup on June 21 after eight years under tough bailout programs. The big political challenge for the Tsipras government is just beginning: how the benefits of exiting memoranda will be gradually reflected in the society and whether such a development could define the outcome of the next national elections.
It is clear that both the Macedonia agreement and debt relief have merged Alexis Tsipras’s leadership skills and international leverage. To such an extent that the Italian daily ‘‘La Repubblica” called him a “protected type of politician” – “a leader who barely knows what populism means,” as the journalist has noted characteristically. Regardless of what international media say, Tsipras has two major priorities in the coming months: The first is to adopt measures that will smoothen low-and-medium income groups. The second is to clear out the political choices of the electorate, i.e. to choose between a progressive political pillar represented by Syriza party and an ultra-conservative political pillar represented by front opposition ND party. In this context, centre-left has to choose its role and clarify its stance.
The 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair
As every September, this coming Fair is expected to bring some news. The Greek government will present its post-bailout program, emphasized on social and economic agenda, respecting also the mid-term agreement with the creditors.
First and foremost, the Syriza government will reinstate collective bargaining and steadily increase minimum wage. Part of the surplus will be re-distributed among vulnerable groups while certain tax reforms will be put forth.
One of the major issues remains the pension cuts, planned for January 2019. Considering that the economy is speeding up its engines, and the government is achieving what has been agreed on the fiscal front, there might be space for the re-negotiation or alteration of this measure.
The Constitutional Reform
The constitutional reform is another core policy pillar for Syriza government. The aim is to trigger the entire process in October, in the Parliament plenary, so that developments can take place by the end of the year. One of the crucial topics refers to the long-awaited separation between the State and the Church, as the government vies for a more balanced relationship.
The constitutional reform will exert pressure to centre-left political forces and push them to assume clear stance. To that end, and considering the goal of Syriza for broader political synergies, we might see a government reshuffle and new political figures outside Syriza party entering the government. Notwithstanding, such a development will be dependent to the general political shifts that might take place in the next couple of months.