Irony and des­tiny

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS KONSTANDARAS

“Suc­cess will re­quire the sus­tained im­ple­men­ta­tion of agreed poli­cies over many years. To this end, po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment is needed, but so is the tech­ni­cal ca­pac­ity of the Greek ad­min­is­tra­tion,” notes the draft of the new mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing which Par­lia­ment was de­bat­ing un­til early this morn­ing. This ob­ser­va­tion sum­ma­rizes the para­dox that was also in­her­ent in the pre­vi­ous two pro­grams: If Greece’s po­lit­i­cal par­ties and ad­min­is­tra­tion were in a po­si­tion to do this, the coun­try would not need such aid pro­grams. The new pro­gram, how­ever, in­cludes many of its own para­doxes – or ironic twists – as it is the prod­uct of the SYRIZA-In­de­pen­dent Greeks gov­ern­ment’s ne­go­ti­a­tions. The new mem­o­ran­dum must be adopted and im­ple­mented by the po­lit­i­cal par­ties which surged to power from the po­lit­i­cal fringe pre­cisely be­cause of their re­lent­less en­mity to­ward the pre­vi­ous bailouts. There is much irony in the fact that af­ter over­sim­pli­fy­ing pol­i­tics into a clash be­tween “pro-mem­o­ran­dum” and “anti-mem­o­ran­dum” forces, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras was forced to make a big­ger U-turn than did the gov­ern­ments of PA­SOK and New Democ­racy, even though those two par­ties had a solid record of un­der­min­ing each other’s gov­ern­ment while in op­po­si­tion. Tsipras dis­played the same ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity – and in fact out­did even the most cyn­i­cal mas­ters of the art of false prom­ises – but, in the end, he took dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions, sur­pass­ing him­self and go­ing against many in his own party. When he stops un­der­min­ing the agree­ment that he him­self brought to Par­lia­ment, when he re­al­izes that only the pro­gram’s suc­cess can jus­tify his about-turn, then maybe the new pro­gram will en­joy greater sup­port than the pre­vi­ous ones. There is irony, too, in the fact that Tsipras is the undis­puted master of Greek pol­i­tics to­day, de­spite re­peated mis­takes and his great Uturn. If he can com­bine the le­git­i­macy of his re­cent elec­tion and his pop­u­lar­ity with a sin­cere de­sire to co­op­er­ate with other po­lit­i­cal par­ties that sup­port Greece’s euro mem­ber­ship, the hitherto ac­tivist leader of SYRIZA may turn into a mod­er­ate with pop­u­lar sup­port who can solve chronic prob­lems. More ironic is the fact that the other par­ties will sup- port a party that re­placed them in gov­ern­ment – so that it can im­ple­ment re­forms that they had un­der­mined in the past, whether in gov­ern­ment or in op­po­si­tion. Crises do this. When the na­tion is in dan­ger, all must change their men­tal­ity and their di­rec­tion. This hap­pened to Alexis Tsipras. It is fit­tingly ironic that his harsh­est crit­ics are in his own party. They ei­ther in­vested heav­ily in Greece’s rift with its part­ners or can­not es­cape their myth of stain­less, un­com­pro­mis­ing left­ism. When op­po­si­tion par­ties work with the gov­ern­ment to spare Greece fur­ther trou­bles, the per­sis­tence of some in pur­suit of dis­as­ter, in the name of the peo­ple, is not irony. It is life’s lit­tle game, lead­ing the foolish and the ar­ro­gant to their fate in the abyss.

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