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Alexis Tsipras represents the "sick" part of Greece, which has to go away

16 May 2012 / 22:05:47  GRReporter
7245 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova 

Spiros Rizopoulos is an expert in strategic planning and communications, founder and owner of the company Spin Communications. In recent months, he has commented on the political developments in a lively manner through his personal blog. Recently, his media presence in some of the biggest international media has been particularly intense.

GRReporter turned to him for comment too.

Mr. Rizopoulos, how would you comment on the election results of 6 May? 

We wrote in our blog back in February that holding elections would be a tragic mistake and would lead to instability. Our position was that the office of Lucas Papademos should remain at the head of state until 2013. Moreover, he himself had to understand that we had not made him prime minister just for him to sign a voluntary debt cut but to try to protect the political system from collapsing, even with the help of a plaster. That is because the country would be destroyed. What we were not able to see was that if the European Union were to keep us alive with loans, it needed an interlocutor. And one cannot exist in a period of political instability. It creates uncertainty, which repels the others from us in turn.

The return to the drachma is something that has been discussed for years now, not only by us ourselves but also by others about us. The political instability has allowed this discussion to go beyond our country. All this is due to the fact that all Greek parties, without exception, cared only about their party interest. In this framework and without any ideology or party programmes presented, the vote of citizens has become a vote of revenge. The result of this process, which we fully expected, was a huge surprise for the rest of the Greeks.

I think the main loser in the negotiations to form a government with the participation of all parties is the leader of Independent Greeks Panos Kamenos. In any event, smaller parties, which cannot exist in periods of stability, are supposed to make such blunders in times of crisis. Therefore, such people cannot be leaders. It is easy to be willing to have a parliament, involving dozens of parties, but the case of Panos Kamenos must teach the Greeks that this would cost them. Even the change of the political system through the infusion of "fresh blood" is carried out in times of stability, not because everyone has decided to oppose something. However, when we are angry we do not have the time for ideologies. If you do a poll today, asking about Alexis Tsipras, nobodywould know what to answer. Rage does not yield election results of stability.

How would you comment on the rise of the radical left SYRIZA?

I do not agree with the results announced immediately after the election polls, which indicated that SYRIZA was the first choice of voters. I think it is still early to make conclusions. I do not think his position during the attempts to form a government will cost him nothing. Furthermore, from a bipartisan system Greece has found itself in an almost bi-polar system. On the one side is Alexis Tsipras, who cannot tell us what the alternative to the memorandum is, the ideology he expresses, whether he wants the return of the drachma, or what his plan for development is. On the other side are the two major parties, which for some reason unclear to me, did not aim their "arrows" at him in time. Nobody ever asked Alexis Tsipras the right questions. The attempt that New Democracy and PASOK made to limit the debate was a crime. The danger should not be ignored. You have to look at it and expose it.

Alexis Tsipras is a representative of what I call the "sick part" of Greek society. These are all those who are trying to attach to someone who is promising that wages would remain the same, there would be no layoffs in the public sector, that public enterprises would be reformed, and so on. He has covered all this with a beautiful veil and by saying that he is the enemy of restrictions. No! Alexis Tsipras represents that part of society that wants to make sure that absolutely nothing will change and if possible, to get the money from the loan without making any progress. I think the task of the others is quite easy. They just have to remind us that this is not a feature of the average Greek. The average Greek wants the abolishment of the status of permanent employment in the public sector, reorganization of state-owned enterprises, establishment of a fair tax system and finally, a party that will present a real development programme. I think it is really possible to renegotiate the Memorandum. I like the logic that when we are given five euro, three of them will be to cover our current needs, and the remaining two will be for development. Then, we will have to admit that we do not know how to achieve development and will ask for assistance in this regard. In other words, at the next elections, Greece will have to choose an interlocutor for the European Union.

Will the failure of political leaders to form a government affect or change the vote of citizens in the coming elections?

My opinion is that even after the second election race, no cabinet will be formed. That is because the message of the Greek people to the politicians is to agree with each other and learn to work together. This means that it is not so important whether Alexis Tsipras will be on the top and which party will receive the "bonus" of 50 seats. The point is that even if he were the first, he would not be able again to form a cabinet. I also think it is too early to say who will win, because I think Panos Kamenos’ blunder will help New Democracy, a possible alliance between Dora Bakogiannis, Stefanos Manos and LAOS, to enter parliament again. Alexis Tsipras’ insistence to throw Greece on the rocks can help PASOK and increase the percentage of the Democratic Left. He could have reached 30% but did not know how to do it. He has turned even more to the left, thinking that this could take votes from the Communist Party and PASOK. Yes, but there are two wings in PASOK. People who are for the reforms will not leave Evangelos Venizelos. It is interesting what will happen to Golden Dawn. I think they made some very serious mistakes from the beginning, they talk using soldier's terms and this shows a Greece which nobody wants. I do not mean that the results will completely change, but there will be a difference in the ratios.

Do you think that populism and the "drachma club" are the biggest enemies of Greece?

I think all parties feature populism. I just cannot say that one of them is less populist. Yes, I think this is the biggest problem of the country. Because of populism, we missed the chance to create a middle class. Furthermore, we in Greece believe that poverty is populism. Actually, such confusion is very common. For example, party headquarters take the middle-class for the social centre.

As for the "drachma club," I have a very personal opinion. As a person, I believe in dignity, I do not want anyone to underestimate me and I want to be accurate to my obligations. I am not an economist to tell you which currency – the euro or the drachma, is better for Greece. If the euro gives me the opportunity to be accurate to my duties and to belong to the civilized world - yes, let's stick with it. If the drachma gives me the opportunity to reorganize and return to the civilized world - let’s return to it. If staying in the euro requires severe sacrifices for the next 30 years – I do not want it. If the return to the drachma will maintain this sick situation, which Tsipras protects – I do not want it either. As a Greek, I am interested in having dignity, being respected by the people abroad and in having an economy that allows me to pay my obligations, while investing in the future at the same time. I do not care what currency I will use.

According to some politicians and commentators such as Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the people who want Greece to return to the drachma are some highly indebted businessmen and publishers, who want to come back then and buy everything on the cheap. What is the profile of these people in your opinion?

I do not know them. I do not belong to this "club". I have my own "club" and its motto is let me have dignity. This means not only to take but also to give things. I do not know these technical definitions of who belongs to the "club of the drachma or the euro." Ultimately, if things are really this way and Kyriakos Mitsotakis is right, the main reason for this is the political system itself. Then, if people are convinced that there are people who are willing for the country to collapse in order to save again the 50 families, who have created the banks, the events surrounding the elections should seem fully justified. Let us not see only one side of the coin.
Do you think that a pro-European front is likely to be formed?

No, there is no way. It is completely illogical to require your party to be called European Left and to disagree with some kind of a memorandum. It is simply not possible.

How would you comment on the call of the centre-right New Democracy leader for joining forces?

The union of the centre-right space is an artificial internal problem. In my opinion, Antonis Samaras was late in thinking of it. The moment he had agreed to participate in the government of consent in order for the country to be saved, he had the great opportunity to open the doors of the party and say, "What separated me from Dora Bakogiannis was the fact that she had voted for the memorandum and I had opposed it. This split between us no longer exists. Dora, come back to pull together the country out of the swamp." Similarly, he had to call all other liberal forces. If he had united centre-right forces then, he would not have 18% today.

I do not want to be unfair to him and i must say that all parties in Greece have a bad connection with the political momentum. They just do not feel it in time. And the one who had no feeling for it at all was George Papandreou and so, we find ourselves in this situation today. Things in the world that have a direct impact on us are moving at a much higher speed than that which the Greek political system is able to feel. Therefore, parties are constantly in a position of defence.

Nevertheless, even if they manage to organize this pro-European front, they will not be able to form an independent cabinet. Therefore, people have to forget for whom they voted in the previous elections.

What do you think might happen after the elections?

I would not dare to make forecasts. I certainly think that now is the time for politics to return to Greece. This could not happen in 2005, when money was flowing like a river and an unprecedented consumer society was created, spending money given by others. When that stopped, people reacted with anger. In the elections, they sent the politicians the message to understand each other. No matter how much the deck is shuffled, I do not think that an independent government could be formed after the next elections. People want to make the parties form a coalition, but I do not know whether politicians understand this.    



Tags: PoliticsElectionsPolitical partiesSpyros RizopoulosExpert in communications
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