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The situation is favourable for New Democracy but Greeks may give Tsipras a second chance

04 September 2015 / 23:09:06  GRReporter
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Did you expect SYRIZA to disintegrate so quickly? Today, 83 other members announced they would leave the party to join Popular Unity. Nevertheless, the percentages of Lafazanis’ party are not increasing in the polls. Why is this so?

As I already stated, it is still early to draw conclusions based on poll results. I think the real dynamics of Popular Unity will become apparent in 10-15 days.

I think it will win 5-7% of the votes. Any rate below 5% would surprise me.

What impresses me is SYRIZA’s endurance and it remains to be seen how it will affect the vote. My expectations were that the radical left would have much lower rates in the polls because of the unprecedented events and twists that occurred while it was in power.

Why is this happening?

I think SYRIZA arranged a number of issues that affect the lives of thousands of citizens during its six-month governing. An example of this is the introduction of 100 instalments for the payment of overdue tax liabilities. Thus, it returned thousands, if not millions, of people back into the economy.

Another similar measure is the introduction of a higher threshold for proceedings initiated against debtors to the state, namely 50,000 euro instead of the previous 5,000 euro, which also has relieved thousands of citizens.

These things have their importance. In addition, SYRIZA has formed a very powerful social network that I think explains its endurance. I do not know if this unity will be expressed by 20-25% of the vote in the elections but it certainly is a solid base.

Do you think that New Democracy is ready and determined to implement the reforms envisaged in the memorandum? For example, the party is now saying it will not vote on the introduction of taxation for farmers.

It will implement them anyway. It has no other option, unless it decides to self-destruct.

If it were at least a bit serious, it would immediately find a way to set below 1.2 billion euro the amount of 2.6 million euro that is expected from the property tax on urban properties alone. If they want to collect this amount from this tax, the rest must be obtained from agricultural lands. I do not mean cutting taxes for farmers, but increasing them. I do not know if they can do this and whether the party representatives are able to pass through this Golgotha.

Nevertheless, this has already happened. Antonis Samaras demonstrated enviable endurance while he was in power. I think now, with PASOK and mostly Potami, which have valuable staff, it will be able to implement the reforms.

I am not sure if New Democracy believes in those things, which it is now saying to secure a large number of voters, and if it considers renegotiating them with creditors. I however think that creditors will not tolerate such arbitrariness.

It is also not clear whether Meimarakis has the determination of Samaras, who I think was a good Prime Minister. He was not good at communication, his personality was not attractive to the majority of society, while Meimarakis is the opposite. Yet Samaras did a great job. If Meimarakis follows his path, Greece will be able to stand on its own two feet in a very short time.

Could the upcoming elections have been avoided? Could SYRIZA have continued to govern with the support of the parties in the previous Parliament?

No, I think Tsipras’ move to announce elections was correct. He learnt from the vicissitudes faced by George Papandreou, who did not want to confirm the policy change through elections. We should not forget that Papandreou was elected with the slogan, "There is money." In 2010, his advisers had proposed to him to call parliamentary elections together with the local ones, accounting for the fact that the government had signed the first memorandum of financial aid and the reality was different. Papandreou did not listen to them and his government fell after six months.

Tsipras, however, seems to have learnt a lesson and he has announced elections to be sure whether the voters will adopt the change in his policy. This is correct because he would not have been able to continue to govern otherwise.

Do you consider Zoe Konstantopoulou a transient phenomenon? How should Greek society counteract her?

I do not know whether she is a transient phenomenon. I have a theory that I have supported for a long time. It is that the more the state of the national economy improves, the more such decadent phenomena will disappear. That is, if Samaras were not faced with presidential elections and if he were able to govern until the end of his mandate, all these phenomena would have disappeared.

Such phenomena did not exist in Greek society in the 1980s and 1990s and after that. They emerged during the crisis.

Today's situation is totally unprecedented for Greek society. It has also created unprecedented political behaviours.

Mrs. Konstantopoulou and others like her will continue to exist. An example is Vassilis Leventis, whom society has suddenly remembered, after 20 years of oblivion. Putting aside her personality, she is smart and capable. If she sets the right goals, she will survive on the political stage. If she wants to take advantage of an anti-memorandum rhetoric, she will disappear, because, as I said, as the economy improves, her figure will fade.

Zoe Konstantopoulou has the chance to be active in another direction. She has the ability, audience and ties in politics. Apparently, she has political ambitions, as she has not joined Panagiotis Lafazanis’ party and prefers simply to cooperate with it.

Tags: PoliticsEarly electionsSYRIZANew DemocracyCoalition cabinetPolls
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