Greece and the Euro: Syriza, the last man standing

Tsipras’s admission that it would now be too messy and painful to extricate Greece from its euro mess and return to the drachma indicated that SYRIZA’s view on the subject has evolved since the party shot to prominence early last year. It is the most unambiguous description of SYRIZA’s current position on the issue.

That’s not to say that the leftists are absolutely united on the matter. There may be as many as a third of SYRIZA members who are highly sceptical about remaining in the single currency. They appear to believe Greece will only solve its economic problems by leaving the eurozone.

Nevertheless, with his November 4 speech, Tsipras drew a line in the Texas sand. Austin is known for having an alternative cultural scene, characterised by the “Keep Austin Weird” campaign. It was in this very city that the SYRIZA leader attempted to tell the world that his party may be a little different but that ultimately on the key issue its position is not that weird at all.

Of course, this makes one wonder why in the same week as his Texas speech Tsipras chose to submit a censure motion against the government and to talk about the Greek people “tearing up the memorandum” during the ensuing debate. It seems perplexing that Tsipras should be happy to reduce his watershed moment at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs to cheap joke in Parliament. “I went there to learn how to duel at El Paso,” he said in response to a jibe from PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who tried to demean Tsipras’s trip by suggesting he went to the US to be instructed by the Americans.

In fact, Texas was mentioned more times in Greek Parliament on Sunday than during a John Ford western. Unfortunately, the level of debate was more suited to Blazing Saddles than The Searchers.

Why Tsipras should choose to undermine himself in this way can only be explained by the fact that he does not believe SYRIZA is ready to shackle itself to reality in the way governing parties or parties preparing to govern have to. The leftists, a party of less than 5 percent four years ago, still want to enjoy the abandon of being in opposition.

A move to get his party to unite behind his statement in Texas entails substantial risk for Tsipras. Senior MPs such as Panayiotis Lafazanis and Manolis Glezos have already expressed doubts about both continued membership of the euro and having a top-down, structured decision making process in the party. Pulling everyone together on this issue, and others, is much like trying to nail jelly to the wall.

*Read the full article at The Agora.

About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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