What is Alexis Tsipra's vision for Greece
There is a warning from meteorologists for election Sunday in Greece. You are expecting great heat. Parliamentary elections in July, during the holiday season, have never been held since the end of the Greek dictatorship, i.e. for 45 years. The scorching heat is a political issue because it makes people not leave their homes or rush to the beach. Therefore, a second warning comes from Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the leader of the conservative party Nea Dimokratia (ND), for whom all opinion polls predict a landslide victory on Sunday. It reads: Nothing is certain.
The Conservatives fear low voter turnout and a fragmented parliament with many small parties; that could cost Mitsotakis, if not victory, then at least the absolute majority. The ND has been the favorite since the European elections and the local elections in May, which is why Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pulled the rip cord and scheduled elections in hot July. Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza party have been in power since early 2015. They held out longer than any of the crisis governments before. Paradoxically, if the left-wing prime minister actually has to make room, then this has to do with his successes.
No visions of how things should go on after the big sigh of relief
Greece was able to leave the international aid program in August 2018. The country is still heavily in debt and the EU inspectors still drop by in Athens frequently, but the end of the austerity dictates caused a great sigh of relief. Tsipras spoke of "liberation" and many saw it that way. The economy is growing again, albeit slowly, the country is creditworthy again. But many Greeks have not forgotten that Tsipras once promised them a much less arduous path when he wanted to "tear up the austerity packages".
Syriza has also failed to develop a vision for Greece after the end of the aid programs. How can the country become more attractive to investors, and also to the 430,000 young Greeks who have emigrated since 2008? What should happen to the universities that train so many academics for whom only cheap jobs remain? With the broken infrastructure? There are currently a lot of complaints about hospitals that lack air conditioning.
Mitsotakis has no miracle recipes, and he will only be able to keep his promises - tax cuts, for example - if the EU loosens the shackles. The budget surplus of 3.5 percent that Athens will have to generate by 2022 is too tight a corset, especially since growth has so far remained below expectations.
Tsipras' greatest success was a foreign policy one: the end of the decades-long dispute with neighboring Macedonia over the name of the state. This opened the way to the EU for North Macedonia. The fact that the EU is now hesitating to implement its promise to Skopje does not change the significance of the breakthrough for Greece. Tsipras, only 44, acted free of old, ideological blinkers. Mitsotakis can thank him should he become prime minister, his ND has put up stiff resistance. However, Tsipras did not get any votes. The people are more conservative than their current government.
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