Early elections for Greece?

What do you think about the prospect of early elections in Greece, will Alexis Tsipras’s government survive or would you say that situation in Syriza will lead the country to snap elections? Read few comments.

Pavlos Efthymiou, PhD Candidate in Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge

As is known, ever since Tsipras asked his party’s support to negotiate a new MoU with his EU partners the week after the referendum we started to see a rapid loss of intra-party support. 18 days later Tsipras has lost the support of three key Ministers and preeminent party members, over 15, then nearly 40 MPs and the epitome was a ‘position’ of the majority of his Party’s foremost body, the ‘Central Committee’ that it is against the deal the PM brought from Brussels.

Tsipras now has to clear this situation whereby there is no government majority in the parliament as the (as much as) one fourth of the MPs say that they support the government in principle but vote down the legislation the government brings in the parliament. Mr. Tsipras clarified today that this ‘surrealistic paradox’ has got to stop.
Therefore he will mobilize the Party’s processes to see whether he can persuade some of these ‘rebel’ MPs to give up their seat in the Parliament and avoid or at least postpone the elections for a bit – at least until he gets the debt restructuring and the new MoU on track (e.g. the first review).

If again he remains in a situation where a considerable number of MPs vote against the government line and laws in the parliament he might as well go to elections as early as the begining of September.

At the moment, the least likely scenario is a grand-coalition. Everyone rejects it – today, at least – as a few weeks back Mr. Tsipras’ government ‘would never sign a MoU’… So political time in Greece has become extremely dense; and positions and red lines are revised by the hour.

Theodore Pelagidis, Professor of Economics, University of Pireus, Nonresident Senior Fellow,  Brookings Institution

Difficult to predict. One thing is for sure: First the agreement , then he will see.

BUT. It all depends on the creditors. Will they allow him to call snap elections? Only if they are convinced that the radical lefts in his party are really a stone in his shoe on implement the measures agreed.

My gut feeling is that he will continue to rely on the opposition to pass the bills and this is good for him as he will share the cost of measures with them… Think about it. Whati is the benefit for him to call for snap elections?

Ioannis Zisis, Doctoral Researcher, University of Hull

Tsipras came back from Brussels with a far more harsh agreement than anticipated materialising what Greeks call a huge shift of ideology-strategy (for quite a few a syriza failure). If you remember the pragmatist scenario I had described, Tsipras wishes to govern more than becoming a local hero of the left because he knows that he is the only attractive political figure in a fragmented political scenery. One of the basic questions among the public has been whether the syriza government is inexperienced, immature or even childish OR that they are cunning people with a plan (the plan being to gradually exit the EU without taking the blame for it). These last few days people seems to think that it is mainly the first (inexperience).

Tsipras decision to reconcile with Europe has been met with disappointment from a radical part of syriza as well as from many people who voted NO in the referendum (simply because they had no hope for the future and were eager to accept ANY new solution including the drachma). But even those disappointed citizens are not joining the other side. Even if they feel somehow used or manipulated by Tsipras they believe that he is their only chance! Therefore they are willing to keep supporting him even if this means that they will have to oppose the far-left syriza minority (Lafazanis-Varoufakis followers) which has remained loyal to them in the first place!!! We are talking about a major dilemma between a cruel pragmatism and ideological ethics.

Tsipras is a person who gathers around him a vast amount of political investment in the sense that he is fulfilling a leadership role for which he has been preparing since he was a student. He knows there is no alternative figure not to mention an alternative party  or group. He plays ball alone! Thus the only one who can harm him is himself! I have been talking to various people from syriza and most of them think that there is no room for co-existence between the radicals and the new version of a milder more European Tsipras. That is why he explicitly addressed the party committee today asking for a partisan referendum and a party conference to clear the air. What he really means is……. radicals you either shut up or you go. There is no room for them in the centre-left oriented version of syriza that can rule Greece with a Tsipras leadership for the next decade.

With this in mind and in relation to your questions, a snap election will only occur if Tsipras chooses it and not because he will be obliged due to a loss of parliamentary majority or withdrawal of the opposition support. Elections can only come from within the party. Thus it is not about ‘surviving’ as you say, it is more about cutting off the anchor that keeps Tsipras from governing independently. So far he is restrained by compromising with the likes of Lafazanis, Konstantopoulou, Varoufakis, all of which have their own political aspirations as figures of popularity among the anti-austerity supporters. Yet not so popular to dare to confront their leader. That is why the global paradox of politics occurred in Greece….. MPs opposing governmental legislation while supporting the government which designed the legislation. If they wanted to take a leap forward and confront Tsipras hoping to gain public support, they would have done so. But they know that people still want the Euro and still want Tsipras to govern.

Therefore, the situation in the next couple of months will be a huge partisan clearing, with either resignations and step-backs from opposed drachma-lovers or their isolation. As a friend told me… (supporter of the old 4% syriza rather than the new 36% syriza) Tsipras should go to elections tomorrow or at least in September. According to the greek electoral system if new snap elections occur within a year they will be held with a closed list, i.e. with explicit candidate choice by the party and preferential ranking order by the leader. In that case Tsipras will simply exclude the radicals from the lists and have a parliamentary assembly of his choice. Of course elections would be a huge step back and could prove disastrous for the country regarding time management. The radicals know it and this is why they don’t confront Tsipras, they try to slide through the circumstances and maintain their independence.

Tsipras will try to avoid the elections as much as possible UNLESS Europe gives him a green light that nothing bad will happen in the country if he holds the elections. That requires an amount of trust towards Tsipras from their part that doesn’t exist for the time being. Until the end of this year Tsipras will try to buy time, silence the radicals, push harsh legislation asap, gain trust as an ‘apprentice’ who administers the EU programme, gain funding and reopen the banks and then play the election card perhaps in November-December throwing out the radicals IF necessary. If it happens it will be the result of calculation and design rather than an unexpected occurrence.

Theofanis ExadaktylosLecturer in European Politics, Department of Politics, University of Surrey

The prospect of early elections in Greece is possible, since the coalition government has practically lost a number of MPs after the last set of austerity measures were ratified. Syriza seems publicly divided with overt voices going against government desires split between Mr. Varoufakis (who is defending his negotiation choices) and Mr. Lafazanis (who is leading the leftist group in favour of a return to the drachma). So Tsipras made a call for unity yesterday at the central committee of the party, plenty of ideas were heard and opposing opinions, however it emerged in the end that issues will be solved in an extraordinary party convention in September. Even if he leads the country to snap elections, with a divided party it is not certain how strengthened he will come out. He will have to watch out for the breakaway voices not to turn into a reality for his party.


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