As a foreigner, I have found this analysis very helpful in trying to understand the recent success of Alexis Tsipras and his SYRIZA movement. Since my own article on Alexis Tsipras provoked some fairly violent reactions, I want to expand by using two examples.
How to avoid having to make a loan
Suppose you are a banker and you have a loan request from a very, very VIP who, if you turn him down, could make your life quite miserable. On the other hand, you can’t approve the loan because there are 10 obvious reasons why you can’t. So what do you do?
You certainly make an offer to the VIP. You start by pointing out all the positive things about his loan request. That will make him feel good. You then tell him that you will be very happy to make the loan and that there are only 10 things which he needs to do until he gets the money. And that means for him to change exactly those 10 reasons why you couldn’t make the loan in the first place. He probably won’t change those 10 things and so he won’t get the money. But it is not you who have turned him down; he has turned himself down. He can’t raise hell against you for having turned him down, he can only raise hell against himself.
Austria’s experience with Joerg Haider
Joerg Haider was on the right what Alexis Tsipras now seems to be on the left: a populist politician with an unbelievable feeling for the pulse of voters and the ability to put their feelings into powerful words.
The establishment reacted to Haider by essentially excluding him from the civilized world, which helped him increase his support from originally 4% to a peak of 33% in an opinion poll years later. Haider made it on the cover of many, many papers and magazines (including TIME or Newsweek; I don’t remember which). In actual fact, he was just a provincial governor in a very small country. All of this could have been avoided if he had been “included” in the process instead of being excluded.
Those who think Tsipras would be dangerous for Greece should stop excluding him from the process. That will only make him stronger. Instead of scaring voters of him, the alternative approach on the part of the “serious” electorate could be: “We think Mr. Tsipras is a very bright and talented man. He has very many good ideas which we also support. This is why we want to work with him and accept his good ideas and he will undoubtedly want to work with us and accept some of our ideas”.
If they keep excluding Tsipras, he will very likely become Prime Minister at the next election.