His wish was granted. The vast majority of Greeks said no to the EU ultimatum he had campaigned against. He clarified that he wants Greece in the European Union, but with a more fair structure. He also asked the Greek citizens to vote NO to EU blackmailing and the Greek media propaganda that terrorized Greece against the NO vote.
If the Union’s operation is fair to all parties involved is a different and long story, but for now it is what it is (and Greece is part of it). Tsipras’ appearances have been less about the terms of the Greek bailout, but rather inspirational towards a different Europe. His favorite word has been dignity.
In pre-referendum Greece it seemed that the referendum also included the question: do you approve the European Union’s ethics and practices? That’s a question many Greeks answered when they casted their ballots on July 5 that resulted in a 61% NO .
And Tsipras is the one they have in mind as the man who can live up to that NO and start a change against Europe’s bad practices. At the same time they believe he will save Greece financially but most important, morally. Most Greeks believe that Tsipras can realize their hope to have those that are responsible for Greece’s unpayable debt, finally pay the bill. While catching the thieves inside and outside Greece, at the same time citizens expect Tsipras to speed up Greece’s necessary reforms in many sectors such as privatizations, tax collection and pensions without the average Greek feeling more austerity. In fact SYRIZA’s pre-election campaign programme -which has been forgotten now- included promises of higher salaries, pensions, and social justice.
The 61% of the citizens that entrusted Tsipras with their No vote, and they are many more than the SYRIZA supporters, expect the Greek Prime Minister to clash with SYRIZA forces that may stand between him and his favorite word: dignity!
The first sacrifice Tsipras made on his dignity may have been the resignation of controversial former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis who -despite his mistakes- had the approval of most ‘No’ supporters. The past two days it has been common to hear in Greece that Varoufakis was sacrificed as a modern Iphigenia since his resignation was a product of Eurogroup demands and not the Greek people’s will.
In today’s Greek fragile society, it is clear that any further discounts in national dignity can and will be used against the Greek PM by those who believed in him and have quietly suffered the past six months in Greece. If the Greek people feel that another Greek leader betrayed his promises once again, then a much worse social crisis will erupt in the debt-ridden country.
Alexis Tsipras has a difficult road ahead of him that he made sure to be full of expectations. He offers unrealistic visions of Europe, a fair Union, instead of a common wallet that members have unfair access to.
Greeks also expect from Tsipras to take on a war he announced himself with an unfair Greek media status quo. They believe that he is the one who can send to jail many politicians and financial elite that are responsible for Greece’s economic disaster.
History will show if Greeks made a mistake believing in Tsipras’ favorite word, dignity, a value difficult to live up to in Greek politics.
Could Tsipras, SYRIZA, and the rest who voted ‘No’ in the Greek referendum be a spark to begin a collective fight against Europe’s plutocracy and Greece’s oligarchy?
Can the Greek Prime minister deliver in his promises to fight corruption, go against Greece’s oligarchs and minimize bureaucracy so Greece will be an attractive country again? Can he change Europe and save Greece from a total financial collapse? Is it possible to do all these at the same time?
Most say that the Greek PM stands no chance defending the dignity of those who believed in him. However, I remember what a young German activist had once told me when I asked if she believes she can change the world:
“I know that history has always been full of surprises. I believe that we are all political entities and each one of us can shape the world. Sometimes we forget that we can change the system!”
Sometimes be careful what you wish for…