“When the going gets tough, politicians start lying” would be the appropriate saying for Greek politicians. And that’s exactly what Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is doing since he took his seat at the Maximos Mansion. Because, truly, things are tough for Greeks in the past seven years. It is just that times are getting tougher and the prime minister must become more creative with his lies.
Or he can just resort to bare-faced lying. Like he did in the interview he gave on Tuesday night on ANT1 television.
Luckily for the prime minister, the journalist who interviewed him went easy on him. Because when the inaccuracies — to be polite — started flying, the journalist was moving to another question.
The prime minister is on the ropes at the moment. Creditors are asking for a fourth Memorandum in order to close the bailout program review and give Greece the next loan tranche in time to pay 6 billion euros for state bonds due in July. Tsipras came to power on the pledge that he will abolish the “deplorable Memoranda” and within six months he signed the most austere Memorandum. Now he is about to sign the fourth Memorandum because he failed to fulfill the obligations of the third. What will he tell his voters? And what to the hardliners of his party? What can he say to the Greek people now that everyone knows that he is incapable of pulling Greece out of recession?
Easy for him: Lie a little more. With a straight face and in front of the camera. Like he did before he was elected when he said on television that he lives in a rental home, when only a few weeks ago he was saying on television that he will not pay the single property tax for the house he owns. Later, when elected, he continued to do that with the same ease. Until he got cornered in parliament and “admitted” that his unfeasible pledges were not lies but “illusions.”
Let’s take a quick look at the things Mr. Tsipras said on Tuesday night. “We will legislate the new fiscal measures, but if creditors don’t give us debt relief, we will not implement the measures.” That sounded more like the threat of a spoiled brat in the playground than words of a man who runs a country.
Then he said that his government negotiated so hard with the IMF that they managed to make a deal for measures that were 42 times less than those the IMF was asking for. Simple math says that if Greece agreed to measures worth 3.6 billion euros, then the IMF was asking for 151.2 billion euros worth of austerity measures!
Another lie was that the measures will have zero impact on Greek people because creditors agreed on counter-measures. For every euro of spending cuts, there will be one euro for social benefits. He did not elaborate on that, of course, because the argument is insane. What’s the point in taking measures when you have to take other measures to counter-balance them?
For the benefit of the doubt, let’s take the explanation given by the finance minister: Let’s say there are pension cuts amounting to 1% of GDP. The counter-measure will be that the government will give back 1% of GDP in property tax cuts and more subsidies for childcare stations. How can you say that the pensioner will not be affected? And the counter-measures will only apply if fiscal targets are met. And that is something that the Greek governments, overall, are not famous for.
Tsipras went on to say that Greek people are not disgruntled by the state of the economy. Otherwise they would be out on the streets protesting, he said. Well, the majority of Greek people have not made a career demonstrating in the streets. They know very well that no matter how they protest, things will not change for them.
Finally, another insult to Greek people’s intelligence was what Tsipras said about the Easter holiday, when Greeks visited their hometowns or went on vacation en masse. “This was the most massive holiday in the past seven years. I was out and I saw it,” Tsipras said, implying that the economy is better during his administration and as a result more Greeks could afford an Easter vacation. As if Greek people should have stayed home to mope.