Oh what a difference a month can make.
Antonis Samaras, leader of the center-right New Democracy (Νέα Δημοκρατία), has been moving toward a “renegotiation” position for some time, but his latest comments about a potential renegotiation of Greece’s bailout terms today vary astonishingly little from what Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left (Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς), has been arguing all along:
Overhauling Greece’s debt deal, known as the memorandum, was also at the top of his party’s agenda, he said. “We will change the memorandum, the relentless recession cannot go on.”
He indicated that European leaders were open to renegotiating Greece’s debt deal. “Europe is changing, Greece has a chance for a fair negotiation within this climate of change,” he said.
Samaras said ND had set two conditions for joining other parties in a coalition government: securing Greece’s position in the eurozone and modifying the memorandum.
It’s a staggering evolution by Samaras, even since May. Regardless of whether SYRIZA wins on June 17, it has cleared moved the terms of Greece’s national debate.
Meanwhile, read Tsipras’s op-ed in The Financial Times from yesterday — he sounds much more like Samaras than the marching-in-the-streets radical of the first election campaign (indeed, the idea of Tsipras writing an op-ed in The Financial Times back in April would itself have been risible). It’s clear that, with even-or-so odds of becoming Greece’s next prime minister, Tsipras is looking to project an image of sober competence:
The systemic fiscal problems of Greece are, in large part, a problem of low public revenues. Myriad tax concessions and exemptions granted to special interests by previous administrations, along with a low effective tax rate on personal income as well as capital, explain much of the problem. So too does the highly ineffective method of tax collection. Continue reading Post-‘Spailout’ climate pulls Samaras even closer to SYRIZA’s position