What’s next for Greece, Syriza after leaving bailout program?

As Greece leaves the bailout program what do you expect politically for the country? Will Syriza be able to somehow capitalize on this, or sooner or later it’s opposition’s turn? Read few comments.

Guard at the Greek parliament building. Credit: Andrej Matisak

Roman GerodimosSenior Lecturer in Global Current Affairs, The Media School, Bournemouth University

I don’t think Syriza will be able to make significant gains from the end of the bailout programme. Let’s not forget that this is partly a symbolic ‘exit’ from the so-called “memoranda” (the bailout agreements). The government has tied Greece to a very stringent set of policies and measures that have to be implemented over the next few decades. More importantly perhaps, few people in Greece actually believe that this is a true mark of recovery for the country’s economy and for its political system. Unemployment is still rife, while the economy has shrunk dramatically over the last 8 years. While there is some optimism about macro figures, growth and confidence have not yet returned and they certainly haven’t trickled down to society and communities at large. Politically Syriza and Mr Tsipras personally is at the worst point that they have ever been. They have mismanaged a series of crises and natural disasters, and they have misjudged the public mood. They are now for the first time seen by part of the electorate that wasn’t always hostile to them as arrogant and completely out of touch. Last month’s fire at Mati – which claimed 96 lives – has left a deep trauma in the Greek psyche and it may well come to be seen as a symbol of their downfall.

Theofanis Exadaktylos, Senior Lecturer in European Politics, Department of Politics, University of Surrey

We do not expect many things to change from the exit from the bailout program. This seems to be a formality as there will be some form of supervision and government will have to demonstrate to the markets that it is capable of handling the reforms going forward and the maintenance of surpluses. Greece is still quite fragile and the recovery does not always treacle down to the lower incomes or people that have been worst affected by austerity.

Politically, this is a bet for SYRIZA. However, any kind of celebratory notion has been tarnished by the recent tragedy during the wildfires in Athens. This has proven to be a black spot on SYRIZA’s record that has perhaps solidified the decline in popular support. Nonetheless, SYRIZA’s comms office and the party mechanisms have been on the task of trying to create a new political narrative based on the ‘success’ of exiting the bailout program. Still, there are plenty of voices that claim that the first few months of SYRIZA’s time in office were lost in terms of economic recovery and that SYRIZA is still to blame for the sluggish growth, compared to countries like Cyprus or Portugal. Even if their time has come to leave office, the opposition party, New Democracy will not necessarily be able to draw support enough for a majority government. It too, is most likely to be forced into a coalition and right now partnership promises are quite meaningless.

Pavlos EfthymiouDoctoral Researcher in Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge

1) SYRIZA was banking for a long streak of positive publicity all the summer, with financial carrots, new promises, and a postponement of any fresh  austerity measures (legislated or new).

2) this was derailed fatally by the devastating lethal fires of Attica that burnt down Mati, and led to close to 100 deaths. The ill management of the tragedy by the government, both operationally (it appears), but also politically, was catastrophic for SYRIZA.

3) It turns out that by this stage the governing coalition has also lost the extensive international support it had, which they had hoped would lead to a number of carrots to share with their electoral base.

4) the government has therefore been left with two celebrations: a) the weak deal for the public debt; b) the end of the MoUs this Monday. As these have rather symbolic impact on the economy, and no major effect so far, it appears that the government is now without real fuel to support a political recovery – at least not for a close-cut election.

5) indeed, if there are no game-changing political, economic or other developments until the elections, it would be safe to predict an emphatic victory for the Opposition, and specifically the New Democracy Party, of Kuriakos Mitsotakis.

6) overall, it appears to be a golden period for investors in Greece, with several sectors promising low risk – high return positions. Tourism, Energy, Transport, Logistics, Healthcare, and more and more arts & culture, are offering very good prospects to national and international investors. The political risk and country risk is arguably low, and there are a number of sectors and industries with notable scalability, potential and promise. The national entrepreneurial and business appetite is growing again, together with the wider investment confidence. It is a good time for smart synergies and strategic business partnerships.

Ioannis Zisis, Academic Tutor, Doctoral Researcher, University of Hull

The story-telling of Syriza has been built upon the ending of the bailout programme and the exit to the markets. Everybody knows that this is a myth and the reality of the numbers is harsh but still from a communicative point of view there is always room for manoeuvring and presenting meat for fish…. it has happened before and it will happen again! With the end of the memoranda, Syriza has not much to work with anymore…the argument of focusing upon social issues-equality-welfare- democratisation during the last year of governance is somewhat naive. I think we are officially entering the long campaigning period before an election.

Unfortunately for Syriza it is not easy to make people forget the dead from the fires, the incapacity and obvious lack of coordination and disaster management from authorities, not to mention the ironic if not insulting excuses. Is Mitsotakis going to capitalise on this? I think he already has but not as much as he expects. The scenery in Greece is still so fragmented and polarised that embedded memories of blame and populist accusations will blare the judgement of the citizens. The result will be unexpected…not so much as to who crosses the line first but as to what percentage the parties get. And lets not forget ….. as the ancient Greek saying goes… ‘from one evil a thousand more follow’ so the next ‘free-from-troika’ day will be much more difficult regardless of who governs.

Angelos Chryssogelos, Teaching Fellow in International Relations & Politics, King’s College London

Most people in Greece expect SYRIZA to lose the next elections. The main question is whether SYRIZA in opposition to a centre-right government will be compliant on economic matters (since they also signed a memorandum), or whether they will mobilize big demonstrations against further structural reforms, reduction of the public sector etc. If they do the latter, Greece’s way out of the crisis will become much more difficult.

 

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