It didn’t take Greece’s new Prime Minister and leader of the Radical Looney Left SYRIZA party Alexis Tsipras long to discover that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Governing is a lot different from campaigning when you promise what you can’t really deliver, although this time his constituency was expecting him to do what he said.
It was the same shock that hit his predecessor, former Premier and New Democracy Capitalist leader Antonis Samaras when he was opposed to austerity measures demanded by international lenders when he was out of office but embraced them the moment he got the seat warm.
Because both found out that money talks more than they could and you can’t run a country without the cashola.
And since 2010 that’s been delivered courtesy of the heartless Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that insisted on big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings but let Samaras and his predecessor, then-PASOK Anti-Socialist leader George “The Money is There” Papandreou, off the hook for not going after tax cheats and the rich.
Samaras had a head for governing, but no heart and couldn’t see nor feel the plight of workers, pensioners and the poor he hammered so he could let his rich buddies skate and prosper. Tsipras has the heart, but no head for governing, and almost as soon as he settled into office he, too, started flopping like a fish out of water.
He told lawmakers that he would stick to his agenda of helping the most vulnerable that Samaras and Papandreou had stepped on, and over, in their rush to please the bankers to whom they had ceded the sovereignty and what was left of the dignity of Greece.
Tsipiras’ inaugural speech to Parliament was full of the kind of stuff that makes good tear-jerker movies (Mr. Tsipras Goes to Athens?) about helping the poor.
But at the same time he said he couldn’t raise the minimum wage right away as promised and that will soon be followed by backtracking on most of the other unrealistic pledges he made because the money just isn’t there to do it.
The money is there in another way – it’s in the hands of the Troika who would like nothing better than to keep its death grip on Greeks and force Tsipras to relent the same way Papandreou and Samaras did.
They knelt so fast their foreheads almost hit the floor. When the Troika told them to throw down their weapons they said, “Parte Ta!” Take them.
Now Tsipras is caught between Scylla and Charybdis, trying to do what he said he would but not being able to do so because the weapons have already been given to the institution he sees as the enemy and won’t even recognize, nor negotiate with.
He seemed positively stunned when he took his show on the road and got sympathy but no real support from France and Italy and sent Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who looks and acts like he’s in the WWF about to wrestle Hulk Hogan, to Germany where he got pounded to the mat by his counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble who pinned him quicker than you can say “I Give!”
Tsipras has already backed away from campaign talk he would seek to revise the terms of 240 billion euros ($272 billion) in two bailouts from the Troika or renege on at least half of it.
He says now he would negotiate – but with EU leaders – and not act unilaterally, and the smart money is that he will do a reverse moonwalk and accept a six-month extension to buy some time.
All the bluster from him and Varoufakis was just that in the high-stakes game of chicken with the Eurozone because there’s no way that Germany, which put up a large chunk of the money and got Greece to administer big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings is going to relent, especially not with the Big Dominatrix, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her hardliner Schaeuble delighting in Greece’s misery.
Varoufakis has already given in 70 percent. “How much of the bailout deal do we accept? Zero percent. What percentage of the (cost-cutting) measures do we accept? About 30 percent of that agreement is toxic and we reject it,” Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said.
“If you are not willing to even contemplate a rift, then you are not negotiating,” he said, sounding more like the guy who was ready to blink. He’s an economist so at some point he’ll have to do the math: there’s no way SYRIZA can raise pay, cut taxes, re-hire fired workers, stop privatization, restore the minimum wage, bring back the Christmas bonus for pensioners and finish its laundry list of hope because that hot air requires cold cash and Greece doesn’t have any.
Idealists don’t last long in politics, nor do noble aims, because politics isn’t about the common good but about the privileged few who use it as a means to take care of themselves, and the people Tsipras wants to help just don’t count in this game.
SYRIZA’s dream just is as dead as the Venezuelan and Cuban economies and the Marxist Model on which it’s based. Tsipras may be a reasonable guy but he’s about to experience some very unreasonable things.
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