Watching lawmakers in the Greek parliament speak about the required reforms they have to vote for in order for Greece to start negotiations for the third bailout package is like watching an absurd tragicomedy. It would have been hilarious if it was performed at a time of normality.
Unfortunately, it is more of a tragedy because it takes place at a time when the Greek economy is dying a slow death, people stand in endless lines to get 60 euros of their own money per day, the prospect of growth is as close as peace in the Middle East, and the country has become Europe’s pariah. Because Europe gave Greece a third and last chance to avoid bankruptcy with a mix of pity and contempt, but in essence, Europe’s aim was to save the euro.
The 300-strong cast of this tragedy was a mix of conceited unionists, mediocre TV actors, aged models, golden boys, and, most of all, professional party members. Very few of them with a grasp of simple economics. Those who belong in the government voted for the bill saying they disagree with it, while those in the opposition voted for it saying they disagree with it but they did so to save the country from bankruptcy.
The script of the tragicomedy came from “Propaganda for Dummies.” Words and phrases like blackmail, death of society, terrorism, total government destruction, inhuman measures, violent enforcement, oppression, vicious attack, colonization, abominable threat, onerous coup, poisonous deal, killing of democracy, heinous crime, were spewed out with absolute seriousness and calculated venom. One would think that Greece was at war with Europe.
Listening to his MPs, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was also dying a slow death. In the war against Europe, where a third of his party is fighting, he is now viewed as a deserter, a soldier who surrendered to the enemy, unable to finish his battle of honor. A comrade who defected. For some he is a traitor, a man who sold his ideals to the enemy in order to retain his seat.
Ever since July 13, when he signed the deal with creditors for the third bailout package, he has received so much fire from SYRIZA‘s Left Platform that very few politicians could endure. His friend and fellow “fighter” Yanis Varoufakis sold him out within hours from the deal. Parliament President Zoe Konstantopoulou did her best to obstruct parliamentary procedures when bills went to parliament for voting. His Ministers Panagiotis Lafazanis and Dimitris Stratoulis indirectly called him a traitor of the Left.
However, typical of the Greek Left, the SYRIZA dissidents never proposed a single alternative to a third bailout. They attacked the Prime Minister with all the empty rhetoric the Left is using, but never tabled a solid suggestion, a viable plan, or at least a half-believable proposal. Not even a plan to orderly return to the drachma. Alexis Tsipras asked for even one such proposal, but to no avail. It was no surprise; no SYRIZA Minister or MP made a solid growth proposal in five months.
Instead, the SYRIZA rebels employed all the tired clichés of “people’s rule,” “bad capitalism,” “class struggle,” “social justice” and, once again, failed to propose a strategy, a plan, or at least a realistic wish.
Unless, of course, nationalization of banks, bankruptcy, isolation, return to the drachma, food lines, gas rations or confiscation of wealth were the alternatives. Yet, not even those were directly suggested. They were spoken in interviews but never in parliament. And they were not suggested because state coffers are empty and people would revolt for the simple reason they didn’t vote for SYRIZA because they wanted out of the Eurozone but for a better deal within the Eurozone.
Alexis Tsipras is watching in grief two thirds of his party claiming they vote the lesser of two evils and one third saying that they vote against. He asked his opponents “not to hide behind his signature.” In return, they accused him of a coup. But in reality, it is his opponents within the party who try to overthrow him. It is the Left Platform that is attempting a coup, simply because they go against the people’s mandate. Greek people did not elect SYRIZA to rule as a communist government by going against their mandate, which was for Greece to stay in the euro.
The Prime Minister needs to remind the party dissidents of that. They challenge his leadership but who has the guts to step forward and claim his seat? Despite their brave talk, the SYRIZA rebels are still afraid to stop riding on Tsipras’ coattails. If elections were held tomorrow, which SYRIZA would be on the ballot? The drachma proponents or the euro proponents? Those in favor of rifts and isolation or those who want Greece to remain in the Eurozone? And more importantly, who would be the leader? The charismatic, realistic, hard-working Tsipras or one of the “talkers” who hide behind his signature?