An early election will not solve Greece’s problems

Liu Rui, Global Times

Liu Rui, Global Times

Greek citizens have already voted two times in 2015. In the national election of 25 January they gave SY.RIZ.A a fresh mandate to achieve better terms for the country’s future within the eurozone. And in the referendum of 5 July  they strongly rejected a bailout proposal although an even more painful rescue package will be finally applied.

Reality is much harder than wishful thinking and populism. Naturally, the Greek government has failed to deliver on its promises. The stay in the eurosystem is not compatible with the logic statism as former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and all his successors perfectly served ignoring future generations and increasing Greece’s national debt. By contrast, it presupposes the implementation of structural reforms.

However, instead of concentrating on how these necessary structural reforms will be carried out, several members of the governing SY.RIZ.A party do not exclude the possibility of an early election in the autumn. Their main argumentation is that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will have the opportunity to better control his party and easily remove extreme left-wing MPs who advocate for a return of Greece to its national currency and an exit from the European Union.

If Mr Tsipras seriously wants to re-establish his party and select MPs who favour European integration and are prepared to respect eurozone rules – in the position of ‘rebels’, he needs no election to achieve this goal. He can write off MPs who disagree and proceed to the formation of a unity government with other pro-EU parties in the Greek Parliament.

An early election will create a new phase of uncertainty. Alexis Tsipras is charismatic in talking to desperate audiences but this time he will lose his basic privilege: the possibility of saying lies with no cost. Therefore, he will find it hard to campaign in favor of a bailout he personally rejects. His glance will not be the same as the one he had by pretending to be the unique leader who could change Europe.

On the other hand, the remaining part of the SY.RIZA, which disagrees with the Greek Prime Minister, might become independent and therefore a partly successful anti-EU pole in the parliament. Additionally, pro-EU parties such as New Democracy, PASOK and To Potami will hardly see their percentages increase in comparison to the election of 25 January if they do not co-operate building a united front and deciding on a common European agenda.

Within this context, an early election will find Greece in a much worse position. More critical weeks will be wasted, the credibility deficit in Europe will widen, the national economy will further slow down and more measures will be required in the end. Ironically, the country will possibly require again a unity government in the aftermath of an early poll.

What Greece needs is a political consensus to change from within. The sooner this happens the earlier the Grexit fear will be definitely put out of the agenda.

George N. Tzogopoulos