ATHENS - Still knocked down after a surprising trouncing for his party’s candidates in the May 26 elections for Greek municipalities and the European Parliament, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader is trying to mount a campaign to bring back enough of the 600,000 voters he left so that he can return to power.
The polls show, so far, that seems unlikely as the major opposition New Democracy beat SYRIZA candidates by 9.5 percent, although that lead was cut down after Tsipras went on a last-minute barrage of handouts, including pension bonuses and tax cuts.
That came after he’d slashed benefits and raised taxes to satisfy the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) to get Greece a third bailout in the summer of 2015, this one for 86 billion euros ($96.31 billion.)
He met with his top cadre of officials who were still reeling after the drubbing, with Tsipras expecting to have won despite four years of reneging on anti-austerity promises, instead burying workers, pensioners and the poor with more brutal measures he swore to reject.
Party sources who weren’t named told Kathimerini the Leftists believe they got smooshed because of a large number of abstentions, many Greeks having apparently given up on all parties, or to defections to the Conservatives by those disenchanted with Tsipras.
Many in the party were said to believe Tsipras patronized voters with the handouts that New Democracy called bribes, and they resented him for thinking they could be bought, as he held out the prospect for more benefits - but only if he were re-elected.
After the strategy session, SYRIZA’s political secretariat issued a statement that left out the usual attacks against New Democracy as elitist and excluding the Leftists favorite slogan they were supporting the working class they had hammered.
Instead, SYRIZA took a page from the Conservatives program and said the concentration now would be boosting growth with innovation and creating jobs after failing to do either for more than four years, and still counting.