PM’s long hot sum­mer

With back against the wall, Tsipras seeks to de­fend gov’t record in Par­lia­ment

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras will face off to­day in Par­lia­ment with New Democ­racy leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis in the af­ter­math of last month’s un­pop­u­lar Eurogroup deal and the garbage col­lec­tors’ strike, which was ar­guably his govern­ment’s first se­ri­ous cri­sis on the do­mes­tic level.

The pre­mier’s task of de­fend­ing his left­is­tled govern­ment’s record will be fur­ther ham­pered by dis­ap­point­ing rates of ap­proval, as in­di­cated by re­cent polls. The lat­est sur­vey by the Univer­sity of Mace­do­nia on be­half of Skai TV showed that the pop­u­lar­ity of rul­ing SYRIZA con­tin­ues to slide, drop­ping to 15 per­cent, and lag­ging be­hind the main op­po­si­tion con­ser­va­tives on 18.5 per­cent.

With noth­ing to show, other than the boost the econ­omy will get with sum­mer tourism sea­son, Tsipras has es­sen­tially noth­ing to fall back on, even though his govern­ment has tried to cul­ti­vate a nar­ra­tive that the coun­try is slowly get­ting back on the road to re­cov­ery.

But the dan­gers that this nar­ra­tive may quickly un­ravel, like so many other be­fore it, are many.

First and fore­most, the third re­view of the coun­try’s third bailout be­gins in Septem­ber and this could be a time bomb for Tsipras, as he will be called on to deal with cred­i­tors’ de­mands re­gard­ing the pub­lic sec­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to some sources, the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund may want to in­clude stream­lin­ing the pub­lic sec­tor among its pro­posed struc­tural re­forms, and this will al­most cer­tainly tar­get con­tract work­ers.

If the govern­ment is forced to take ac­tion against con­tract work­ers it runs the risk of los­ing the hard core of its sup­port, which mainly com­prises civil ser­vants. It will also fur­ther dam­age the govern­ment’s cred­i­bil­ity as the pro­tec­tor of the pub­lic sec­tor, and punch holes in its nar­ra­tive that a Mit­so­takis govern­ment would hand over their fate to the pri­vate sec­tor.

Fur­ther­more, Tsipras can­not be as­sured of Ger­man as­sis­tance af­ter the elec­tion there. If any­thing, there is con­cern that Ber­lin may adopt an even tougher stance.

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