Home > opinion > Greeks endorse Alexis Tsipras’s new deal for the economy
Alexis Tsipras. Photo: AFP
Alexis Tsipras. Photo: AFP

Greeks endorse Alexis Tsipras’s new deal for the economy

Greeks have placed their complete trust in Alexis Tsipras, whether he goes one way or another

New Delhi: Alexis Tsipras’s third victory this year establishes that the Greeks want to give him another chance, paradoxically so.

The Tsipras they voted for in the 5 July referendum seems to be different from the Tsipras of today, as far as his stand on austerity measures are concerned.

The Greeks said an emphatic ‘No’ to austerity imposed by EU members, primarily Germany, in July, but in choosing Tsipras in the Sunday vote, they have now in effect said Yes to even stricter austerity measures that the leader agreed to in a turnaround on 13 July.

The turnaround

“Democracy won’t be blackmailed", Tsipras said on a televised address to Greece after results to the 5 July referendum were declared, and added that Greeks had made a “very brave choice".

Just a week before, on 27 June, Tsipras stunned the world by announcing a plebiscite, sending the EU partners, who had been pushing for a bailout deal that would force Greece into further austerity, into a tizzy.

In a televised address Tsipras said EU members were asking the Syriza government to do what the people of Greece had opposed in choosing them in the January 2015 mandate. Listing Europe’s demands, he said they were asking for further deregulation of the labour market, pension cuts, and reduction in salaries, apart from an increase in taxes.

“I call on you to decide... whether we should accept the extortionate ultimatum that calls for strict and humiliating austerity without end, and without the prospect of ever standing on our own two feet, socially and financially," he said.

But what happened roughly a week after the historic Greek mandate was even more stunning. A massive climbdown from its earlier stance, Tsipras’ new deal with European partners was even more austere than previous bailout agreements the country signed up to. It meant that Greece makes cuts to its pension industry, liberalise some protected sectors of the economy, and conduct a review into its labour market, among other reforms, and to “significantly scale up its privatisation programme".

What, however, is now amply clear is that the Greeks have squarely rejected the old political system in the country, and have placed their complete trust in Tsipras, whether he goes one way or another. At the end, what will matter is how and when Tsipras steers Greece out of its worst financial crisis.

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