Last chance for Tsipras?

The so-called hardliners made the Syria coalition government under Tsipras an ineffective minority government without opposition support.

By Jan Randolph/Opinion

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Published: Tue 25 Aug 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 25 Aug 2015, 9:44 AM

The tactical timing couldn't be better. Former Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has called snap elections for September 20, the day the official three-year bailout is to start, following a host of urgent prior actions - reforms todate that need to be passed by the government.
To get this far this quickly after the acrimonious first six months with Syriza in power is remarkable. Tsipras has performed a political summersault, or in Greek a "kolotoumba". But the cost has been sizeable defections from his party. The so-called hardliners made the Syria coalition government under Tsipras an ineffective minority government without opposition support, something that was critically needed to pass all the prior actions and to secure the third bailout from the Greek or debtor side.
To carry on now and successfully implement the demanding schedule of intrusive reforms ahead and as required under the third three-year bailout, needs a strong and sustained commitment from Syriza party followers, preferably without interfering opposition party support. This is why Tsipras has called snap elections, to get the democratic endorsement over the third bailout from the people. This time it is not going to be a "yes or no" referendum - but an endorsement for Tsipras and his government as the political leader with the greatest political capital in Greece now bar none to carry through with the bailout terms and govern Greece.
Tspiras is likely to get what he wants: a return of a new Syriza' government - minus the old Syriza hardliners. Despite the trials, tribulations and political summersaults with the eurozone authorities and the International Monetary Fund over the last few months, the Greek people still trust him the most to serve them as best he can, untainted by past party or personal corruption and to carry the populist, left-leaning flags.
The challenge for Tsipras is to convert what has been a confrontational, student-revolt type government in the first six months in office to one that can actually govern responsibly and deliver on a demanding schedule of reform bills to be passed through parliament over the next three years in a timely and uninterrupted manner. This is best achieved with the largest possible support to his new government from Syriza members themselves rather than having to rely on opposition party support.
Should Tsipras succeed in bolstering Syriza members and at the same time have a mandate to eliminate the Syriza hardliners, this will bode well for the legislative angle in parliament on reform implementation further down the long three-year reform road.
The daunting challenges on reform bills' actual implementation and execution for the Greek state and bureaucracy still nevertheless remain. There are still mines and tripwires ahead at each quarterly bailout tranche - or bailout money release stage - that could still scupper the entire bailout enterprise and send Greece back into the nightmare of bankruptcy and euro exit; as this third three-year ?86 billion bailout is seen very much Greece's last chance and Tsipras now knows it.
The writer is director of sovereign risk at IHS Global Insight. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

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