September 02, 2015

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Can Tsipras lose?

Alexis Tsipras is hit by yet another series of blows as Syriza members are leaving the party. His speech writer Theodoros Kollias resigned on Monday stating that Syriza lost its founding ideals. Yesterday, Syriza Youth withdrew its support for the party in the elections, a bad blow for its once fervent appeal to young voters. The same day another faction, the Communist Drift, joined the Popular Unity. Losses at the regional level are also accumulating and will have an impact on the mobilisation at the local level, writes Macropolis.

Tsipras' image flip-flopped in no time. He appears no longer the beacon of hope, which played such a big part in the election campaign in January. His sparkle lost, his speeches less combative, the word “Left” is missing in his talks since he signed the memorandum and the visible expansion of his waistline is understood as a symbol of him becoming more conservative, according to Greek Reporter. Pictures in the press also depict Tsipras more alone than ever. Social media are ridiculing the party and its leader for its U-turn from militant leftist to a more conservative pro-European political entity.

On the background of these events, Tsipras started his nationwide campaign tour yesterday with the message that Syriza is the break with mainstream parties that governed Greece over the last decades. The opposition uses every opportunity to point out that Tsipras is “one of them” by signing the bailout deal. New Democracy made a symbolic move of its former headquarters back into the centre of Athens. Evangelos Meimarakis will be using his visit to Jean Claude Juncker to underline New Democracy's commitment to Europe in contrast to Syriza’s difficult relationship with EU leaders.

Will Syriza have anything different to offer in terms of content? The press expects that with the bailout deal there is not much Syriza can do. One of the topics that is likely to pop up in the coming week is the VAT levy on private education, writes Kathimerini. Syriza made a U-turn announcing it would repeal the measure if elected after more than 200,000 people signed a petition against the tax. Syriza now blames the lenders for this unpopular measure and lashed back at New Democracy saying they voted for it in the raft of measures. The question is whether Syriza can win elections or whether its appeal relied only on its opposition denouncing policies of the government.

During the campaign there will be two televised general election debates for the first time in six years. One is scheduled for September 10 with other party leaders and the second is just with the two, Tsipras and Meimarakis on September 14. The alliance between Pasok and Dimar will not bring Pasok as many votes as Papandreou would have done. Furthermore, it split the Dimar party, with some 31 members opposing the alliance among them party leader Fotis Kouvelis. He came out in favour of Syriza instead, Macropolis reports.

Another poll for Action 24 television showed that Syriza is only 1pp ahead over New Democracy, while 10.5% of the polled were undecided. More than two-thirds of the respondents disapproved of his government's performance in its seven months in office, Reuters reports. Previously, polls had suggested Tsipras remained popular with voters because he had at least put up a fight in the negotiations for a bailout. A quarter of the people polled would like to see a coalition government made up of Syriza, New Democracy and other parties.

The list of measures that need to be implemented by the interim government in September are listed in this article on Macropolis. Most of them are not that controversial, concerning the setup of institutions or procedures aimed at more efficiency, transparency and independence. The meaty issues like pension reform are left for October.

 

Our other stories

We also have stories on the massive hit to Greek economic output since July, on Italy's GDP and what the latest numbers are really telling us; some observations on market volatility; why inflation break-even rates are telling us less than we think, and our take on the Catalan elections.

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