Less than a month remains to the second elections in Greece, the polarization in society is high and the polls ranking the radical left SYRIZA first are stirring the majority of Greeks. GRReporter talked with Thanos Veremis - political history professor at the University of Athens, about the eventual outcome of the elections, the political relationships, the political system and the repeating history. In the elections on 6 May, he ran for the post of deputy with Stefanos Manos’ party Drasi. Now, however, he will not participate, "because the stakes are very high, as it depends on them whether Greece will remain in the euro area and the European Union."
Mr. Veremis, what caused the rise of SYRIZA? Do you think it is only temporary or it will last for long?
The impressive rise of the radical left is due on the one hand to the very poor economic situation of the country, which creates a sense of hopelessness. Above all, it is based on public officials’ fear of losing their jobs later. Currently, the unemployed in the country who number over one million are former employees of the private sector. So far, the public sector has not been touched. Therefore, its employees are uniting around SYRIZA which is promising many different things. The main one being that when they take power, they will cancel the Memorandum of financial assistance. We are currently seeing a change in tone, but it still remains their main promise.
Another evil is that both New Democracy and PASOK are in a state of decline and their leaderships are very problematic. Alexis Tsipras looks young, handsome, energetic and cute to girls. How could Evangelos Venizelos and especially Antonis Samaras who has lost his temper handle him? Samaras was not particularly inspiring the followers of New Democracy anyway and now, he is not inspiring anyone.
I think the phenomenon called SYRIZA is completely temporarily. Alexis Tsipras has no idea of how to deal with the likelihood of his party taking power. He is looking at things from the position of the party, which is uniting the protesters and its strength is not more than 4%. Alexis Tsipras and the group of leading figures around him who he had determined as ignorant and that is the least I can say about them, are speaking about a bunch of extremes and they are frightening people. SYRIZA consists of 12 components, each with its own ideas and a big mess reigns there. Starting from Maoists and go to neo-Maoists, Trotskyites, fans of Fidel Castro, etc. It is simply impossible for an ordinary person to find the right track and understand the expressions of each of the components of the coalition. As I said, the average citizen likes Alexis Tsipras. He is a young and inexperienced politician but he is smart enough to learn things over time.
His rise will not last for long, at least no longer than 1-2 weeks. In my opinion, SYRIZA will not win the election and will be the second party in terms of number of votes.
This means that New Democracy will be the first party, according to you.
Yes, I think so. It will win about 26-27% of the votes and SYRIZA - between 22-23%. Then, it will be possible to form a cabinet and it will be a shame if the politicians do not do it. New Democracy, PASOK and the Democratic Left should be able to form a cabinet.
An alliance between the party Drasi with which you participated in the elections on 6 May and Tzimeros Thanos’ party "ReCreate Greece" will be announced tomorrow. Do you think they would participate in a coalition government?
If they manage to cross the 3% limit - yes, they will surely participate. But I'm not sure they will reach that percentage in those elections which are very much polarized. It is not impossible but it will be difficult.
Will you participate in the elections again?
No, I will not participate because the stakes in the elections on 17 June will be much higher than in the previous ones. We all knew that in the elections on 6 May, people would vote to punish the political system and that is exactly what happened. The vote in favour of SYRIZA was more punitive than constructive. This time, I think the stakes are whether Greece will remain in the euro area or not.
In the context of Greece’s involvement in international organizations, the U.S. journal Foreign Policy published a poll conducted among 59 analysts, politicians and experts. Eighteen of them indicated that if one of the NATO countries should be expelled, this should be Greece. What is your comment?
NATO? These people are completely stupid. If they had said that concerning the European Union, I would accept it because there is a reason for such an action. But what does this have to do with the Alliance, to which Greece has always been true and has participated in constructively? What is the reason for this? What has Greece done against NATO? I have no other comment about the people who conducted this poll.