On August 20, just hours after Greece received the first tranche of its 86 billion euro bailout and just seven months after he assumed office, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned his post and effectively triggered new elections, scheduled for September 20. Tsipras’ sudden resignation has raised concerns that the political uncertainty surrounding new elections will further damage Greece’s ailing economy and slow down the reform process to which Greece has committed itself as a condition of its EU bailout.
Although the outcome of the elections is uncertain, the most likely scenarios all involve Tsipras returning to power. Despite having caved in to creditor demands and reneged on his promise to end austerity, Tsipras remains enormously popular in Greece. Today, the firebrand former communist is the only political figure who appears capable of assembling a majority government and pushing through the austerity measures and structural reforms that the EU is demanding. Greece’s EU creditors spent the past year battling with Tsipras, but now, in a delicious irony of the eurozone crisis, they have every interest in seeing him triumph at the ballot box.
In dissolving the current government, Tsipras is trying to reassert control over his fractious party, Syriza, and even perhaps to reinvent himself as a leader of the center-left. When Tsipras accepted EU creditors’ terms for a third bailout, he lost the left wing of Syriza, and with it his working parliamentary majority. This rupture was obvious as early as August 14, when 42 of Syriza’s 149 members of parliament refused to support the EU bailout deal, forcing the government to rely on opposition parties to pass the measures. The splintering of Syriza was formalized on August 21, when 25 parliamentarians from Syriza’s Left Platform broke away and formed a new party, Popular Unity, under the leadership of Panagiotis Lafazanis, the Marxist former energy minister.
Although the outcome of the elections is uncertain, the most likely scenarios all involve Tsipras returning to power.
Popular Unity, which is now the country’s third-largest party,
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