My thoughts on Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA have evolved as shown in the following articles (in chronological order).
While I have changed my argumentation as things evolved, my general line of thinking has remained unchanged, namely: Mr. Tsipras is an unusually charismatic leader at a time when Greek politics are desperately short of charismatic leaders; thus, he is a force to be seriously reckoned with. Secondly, Mr. Tsipras makes exactly the type of soundbites which a society in stress and distress loves to hear (and his opponents are dumb not to copy some of them!). The fact that Mr. Tsipras doesn’t support his soundbites with hard facts is not too surprising at this point. This is a political campaign and not a PhD examination. Finally, Mr. Tsipras is only electable if he allows himself to be advised that some of his soundbites must not be meant seriously. Here, Mr. Tsipras does not leave the impression that he will allow himself to change his mind and this is why he is not electable in my view. Below are the details.
1st, Mr. Tsipras calls for a National Plan for Reconstruction and Growth. Wonderful! I have argued since the beginning that this is necessary only that I called it a Long-Term Industrial Development Plan laid out for the period of one generation. The idea is the same; we differ as regards implementation. Mr. Tsipras seems to think that throwing other countries’ savings at the Greek economy and giving the state a predominant role in distributing them would take care of all problems. I argue that only when other countries’ investors start trusting the Greek economy to invest there can there be a chance for a future.
2nd, Mr. Tsipras uses several other wonderful soundbites which go down like honey. Such as: ending Greece’s corrupt and inefficient political and regulatory systems that have ravaged the economy over the past decades; averting the country’s evolving humanitarian crisis; creating a new path to growth through transparent government; enacting a tax reform so as to identify the wealth and income of all citizens, and to distribute equitably the burden of taxation; etc. My ears can’t get enough of such soundbites!
3rd, Mr. Tsipras outs himself as a fiscal conservative. He calls for stabilizing public expenditure at approximately 44 per cent of GDP and reorientating this expenditure to ensure it is well spent. This has been my point for ages. Mr. Tsipras also aims at increasing revenues from direct taxation to the average European levels of 44% over a four-year period. This, too, has been my point for ages. If you do the math, you will conclude that Mr.Tsipras plans to balance the budget within 4 years!
4th, Mr. Tsipras apparently knows the difference between what one shouts into public megaphones and what one communicates officially to negotiation partners. Into the megaphones he shouts things like “declaring the MoU null and void”; “calling Germany’s bluff”; etc. The small print reads quite differently and more sensibly.
So, with all of those wonderful perspectives, why not go out and vote for SYRIZA, give it an absolute majority and await the Golden Age for Greece? (and for Europe, for that matter!).
As flexible as Mr. Tsipras is here and there, in one area he seems to be totally unflexible if not so say ideologically dogmatic. He does not seem to trust that “economic agents” will take the right decisions in a market-based economy as long as the incentives/disincentives are set properly by the government. Instead, he trusts the elected government more to take the right economic decisions than the free economic agents. Privatizations will not happen under his regime; instead, there will be nationalizations. The public sector will not shrink; instead it will expand. Foreign investment will not come; instead, it will depart. Capital will not enter the country voluntarily; instead, Mr. Tsipras thinks he can force it to come. Greece will not become a modern economy; instead, it will return to the 1960s.
Ever since I observed the unusual political talent of Mr. Tsipras emerging, I had been hoping that someone might persuade him of the following: the future of Greece will depend on allowing the Greek people to unfold their willingness to work hard, their creativity and ingenuity, their power of improvization, etc. – to allow those forces to play out in as unhindered a fashion as possible. To entrust the future of Greece into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, to rely on their creativity, ingenuity and power of improvization is what will return Greece to the 1960s.
So what do you prefer for your children? The 2020s or the 1960s? There is more than half a century between the two!