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Statesman or ideologue — Tsipras has to choose


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Aristides N. Hatzis, "Statesman or ideologue — Tsipras has to choose" (Financial Times, July 11, 2015)

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Statesman or ideologue — Tsipras has to choose

  1. 1. Share  Print Clip Com m ents Last updated: July 11, 2015 2:31 am Aristides Hatzis ven before the January elections in Greece, it was quite clear that the new Syriza government would have to negotiate on two different fronts: with Greece’s creditors and the Syriza extremists. Both negotiations failed miserably a fortnight ago when Alexis Tsipras realised that he could not compromise without undermining his fragile parliamentary majority. The prime minister’s reaction was risky and foolish: he asked the Greek people to reject a proposal which, at the moment they voted on it, did not exist. The referendum supplied the result Mr Tsipras wanted but in many ways his position has deteriorated. His opportunistic manoeuvre infuriated almost every other European leader. The prospect of Grexit suddenly became more real. If Mr Tsipras’s objective was to blackmail the institutions into ©AFP Statesman or ideologue — Tsipras has to choose - 1 of 3 11/7/2015 11:30 πμ
  2. 2. RELATED TOPICS Greece Politics,Greece DebtCrisis,AlexisTsipras Share Print Clip Com m ents Greece's forgotten migrant crisis Osborne’s building plan for productivity What next for China's equities? offering a better deal, he clearly failed. His last minute proposal, delivered on Thursday night, was in line with most of the creditors’ demands. It was a bitter defeat for him and for those who advocated voting No. They won a referendum but lost a war. Yet Mr Tsipras is more popular than ever. His political hegemony is unprecedented in recent Greek history. His latest ploy was to try to outsmart both the creditors and his own comrades with a bold move: a parliamentary vote, which he won in the early hours of Saturday morning, on his latest offer to the institutions. His party has had to swallow his proposal; who would dare to challenge him? Meanwhile, his intention is for the rest of Europe to conclude that Syriza has reached the limits of bending without breaking. Any more pressure will signify their determination to humiliate Mr Tsipras at any cost. With the parliamentary vote won, Greek legislators have approved a third bailout agreement. It will not be perfect; tax rises are still unjustifiably prevalent, the overhaul of the pension system is half-baked, cuts in military spending are less than enough, energy sector deregulation is absent, the privileges of the Greek Orthodox Church remain intact. But it gives Mr Tsipras the power and the opportunity to cleanse his own party of extremists. He can establish himself as a statesman, ready to assume political cost in order to protect his country. He can erase from the political memory his unwise promises, his imprudent referendum manoeuvre, his clumsy negotiation methods, his many lethal mistakes. He can transform himself into a leader of a more moderate left, decisively pro-European, not from necessity but from choice. He can consolidate his power, he can reorganise and expand his party towards the centre and he can reinvent himself as a progressive reformist. Alternatively, he can remain the same, a relic of a defunct ideology. Creating obstacles to reforms. Trying to cheat Greece’s partners. Reorganising, regrouping and waiting for a rematch. In a game he is destined to lose. The writer is an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens Statesman or ideologue — Tsipras has to choose - 2 of 3 11/7/2015 11:30 πμ