Days before the second greek elections of 2015, a left minister of SYRIZA was asked, what their political party would do, if the “Independent Greeks” (ANEL) -the right-wing populist party with whom they had a governmental coalition at the first period- did not manage to be elected again. “In that case, our government partner will be PASOK,” answered without any hesitation. In the next question, “Why would you choose PASOK (the social democrats) over Potami (centrist and liberal party)”, the answer was truly shocking: “Potami are idealist neo-liberals, while PASOK… they are just crooks. If we give them some ministries and some governmental posts, they will allow us to do what we want….the others will impose their own political terms.”
Overcoming the Syriza minister’s judgments on whether PASOK and Potami are indeed “crooks” and “idealist neo-liberals”, the rationale revealed and confirmed along the way, is of significant importance.
SYRIZA yearned for governmental power and the right to “use it” in every possible way; subsequently, a political partner that would not prevent them from doing so, was preferable. Political ethos and honesty -if someone, is a “crook”, according to the expression used by the minister- does not matter. It is fair enough, if the job is done.
The right-wing populist party (ANEL), has always been the first choice of Syriza’s, called Radical Left, PASOK being the second; with PASOK there were strong bonds and there are still some, nowadays. Still, PASOK’s leadership is clearly displeased, since they preferred -twice- the conservative populist Kammenos instead of them, while Syriza allowed them to believe that they would be the chosen ones.
Let us mention, that according to the polls which took place before the greek elections of September 2015, it was still vague, whether the “Independent Greeks” (ANEL) would be able to rejoin the Parliament. Both, Potami and PASOK though, were ready to accept the role of the new governmental partner, as they had helped Alexis Tsipras through the third program of austerity measures (for which he strongly protested in the past) being voted by their members of the Greek Parliament. There was a strong belief, that even if the “Independent Greeks” (ANEL) were able to be elected, SYRIZA would chose them, as now there was no alibi for the policy against the IMF and the lenders to justify coalition with an extreme-right wing party. Yet, it was the leadership of SYRIZA, which deliberately allowed them to believe that they would be selected as the new governmental partners. The truth is, however, that SYRIZA’s leadership had absolutely predetermined what they were about to do.
Alexis Tsipras and Panos Kammenos, his right-wing populist partner, created a bond from the beginning, and beyond their political relationship, a personal friendship was established. There was no intention, consequently, to change the governmental partner. During this second time coalition, the justification of the fight against austerity programs was avoided, as these two parties (SYRIZA and ANEL), had both accepted the austerity and had come to terms with it, in order to maintain power.
SYRIZA’s leadership had made ‘a job description’ for the governmental partner and the most suitable candidate, was the right-wing populist, Panos Kammenos.