The drought af­ter To Po­tami ran dry

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

There’s more to be read into the con­tentious TV ad­ver­tise­ment re­leased by SYRIZA last week than even the cre­ators them­selves would prob­a­bly like – and espe­cially if you take away the crass hu­mor and cheap shots against the me­dia world, which ral­lied to­gether against the ad.

Gam­bling on a re­vival of the di­vi­sive tone of the 2012-15 pe­riod, the main op­po­si­tion party’s ad seeks to rein­vig­o­rate the re­flexes of the anti-me­moran­dum au­di­ence that brought it to power. The prob­lem with this ap­proach is that this is not 2012 and there’s no me­moran­dum. More im­por­tantly, we have had the ex­pe­ri­ence of four-anda-half years of a SYRIZA-led gov­ern­ment, which no one can say was the best (or most blame­less) in terms of its re­la­tions with the me­dia. Its drive to take a po­lit­i­cal hold of the coun­try’s pub­lic broad­cast­ers is still too re­cent for the op­po­si­tion to now ap­pear as a cham­pion of “nor­malcy” in the me­dia.

And this is how SYRIZA’s prob­lem be­comes a prob­lem for the coun­try’s en­tire po­lit­i­cal sys­tem: If light does in­deed need to be cast on how the gov­ern­ment spent the bud­get for its coro­n­avirus pub­lic health cam­paign, the ques­tions be­ing raised by Alexis Tsipras and his fel­low left­ists are be­ing lost in the din of squab­bling be­tween the two main par­ties.

The is­sue has also served to high­light the ab­sence of a po­lit­i­cal force that has not wasted its po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal so reck­lessly and has at least a mod­icum of cred­i­bil­ity. With Move­ment for Change (KINAL) fac­ing sim­i­lar short­com­ings to SYRIZA, Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis has emerged as the dom­i­nant force of the cen­ter, and while this may be great news for New Democ­racy, it is not great for the coun­try.

If po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments had taken a dif­fer­ent course and a party like cen­trist To Po­tami (The River) still had a pres­ence in Par­lia­ment and in the pub­lic de­bate, the gov­ern­ment’s over­sights would not sim­ply dis­ap­pear in the void be­tween ND and SYRIZA. Many cen­trist vot­ers are aware of the rul­ing party’s short­com­ings but they cer­tainly are not wait­ing for SYRIZA to save them.

The ad­ver­tise­ment, there­fore, speaks to SYRIZA’s staunch­est sup­port­ers and no­body else, for the sim­ple rea­son that no one else wants to hear it play the same old song again. This ab­sence of a re­li­able voice to the left of New Democ­racy, in turn, plays into the hands of Mit­so­takis. Th­ese gains, how­ever, are only short-term, be­cause in the long term he stands to lose from the im­bal­ance.

Op­po­si­tion SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras (right) chal­lenges Prime Min­is­ter Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis as he looks on in the Greek Par­lia­ment in Athens last week.

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