Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pyke's Pique

Updated 8/21/2015

Elefanisi Beach, Crete.
Bizarrely misconceived headline at ThinkProgress:

Greece’s Radical Leftist Prime Minister Resigns In Defeat

Government officials told reporters Thursday that Tsipras will turn in his official resignation papers this afternoon and call for a new parliamentary election on September 20th. Tsipras hung on for weeks longer than eccentric Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis, who motorcycled off into the sunset immediately after a July referendum that appeared to put Greece on the verge of exiting the European Union.
In the weeks since that vote, cooler heads prevailed and struck a deal to keep Greece in the currency group... The deal is a catastrophic defeat for Tsipras’ administration, and observers believed it was likely he would lose his job one way or another from the time that he reluctantly called for lawmakers to approve the bailout.
I don't think the writer, Alan Pyke, has a very clear idea of how parliamentary systems work. And it's a howl of Eeyore Caucus despair: on the assumption that Tsipras making a deal must have betrayed the international left by refusing to exercise his Green Lantern powers (he's just as bad as Obama!) because didn't he promise us the Revolution? (No.)

As a matter of fact, the resignation is a sign of earned confidence—he isn't so much quitting as firing the government and proposing to hire a new one, and he'll be heading that one too. Tsipras has done extremely well, considering how badly stacked the odds were. The renewed austerity program is still pretty horrible, but he has succeeded in forcing the Germans to go to the table to negotiate some debt relief, something they had insisted for years was impossible by Eurozone rules, and it will be a pretty big one, of a third to a half of the country's total; and the country has been permitted to run another deficit this year.

And the tourism industry has roared back to life (Athens Airport expects 25 million arrivals this year, up from 21 million last year), which means substantial increases in employment and government revenue.

The real reason for his resignation, which I think has been expected for weeks, is that he's so popular in Greece at the moment, and wants to take advantage of the fact to thin out the ranks of his opponents both inside and outside the Syriza party:
Mr. Tsipras is betting that Greek voters, weary of instability, will support him in a new vote and enable him to form a new government absent hard-line leftist dissenters. Despite his reversal on the bailout plan, Mr. Tsipras has remained highly popular, with the most recent polls in late July showing no other leader in a strong position to challenge him at this stage.
This will make him stronger than ever and help him swing victory in the one area where he and the Germans strongly agree, in the need to reform the Greek tax system and start collecting more from the wealthy cheats. Things are looking much better in Greece than they did a few months ago, and that's a fact. To suggest otherwise is just journalistic malpractice.

Update: Wonderful commentary in the UK Independent by Labour politician Denis McShane:
[Former Spanish Socialist prime minister Felipe] Gonzalez won his ideological battle and governed for 14 years. Tsipras should aim for no less. The decision of the Bourbon left of Syriza which has learnt and forgotten nothing allows Tsipras to fashion a new set of candidates ready to engage with rather than reject Europe and to win a clear majority. The left can win and keep power when it is in touch with the time not its devout beliefs.
How long it will take today’s Labour Party to learn that lesson is another question. Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn should learn Greek to see what needs to be done.

No comments:

Post a Comment