Tuesday, September 29, 2015
After the somersault, Tsipras walks the tightrope of power
September 29, 2015
According to a joke doing the rounds in Athens, the best thing that Alexis Tsipras has going for him, as he embarks on his second spell as Greece’s prime minister, is that he will not be under attack from Alexis Tsipras.
All Greek governments have struggled since 2010 to implement reforms and austerity measures demanded by international creditors as the price for multibillion-euro bailouts. But no critic was more scathing of their efforts and, ultimately, more popular with the public than the leftwing populist Mr Tsipras.
Now, fresh from a policy somersault in July and August, Mr Tsipras occupies the hot seat, committed to market-friendly reforms, under strict foreign supervision, that until recently he denounced as wrong-headed and an outrage to Greek sovereignty.
It is just as well, as the joke suggests, that the moderate incarnation of Mr Tsipras has no Doppelgänger on his left flank, impatient to give him a tongue-lashing for hypocrisy and opportunism.
Ultra-leftist rivals in his Syriza party, who might have performed this role, broke with him over his U-turn but won too few votes to enter parliament in Greece’s September 20 general election. Other critics in Syriza’s parliamentary group are, for the moment, lying low, aware that the party owed its victory largely to Mr Tsipras’s personal qualities.