Editorial: Political opportunism

In no institutionally well-ruled country does one consider it political opportunism when an opposition figure criticises an international agreement

Friday, June 15, 2018
There can be no doubt, whatever opinion one may have about the agreement with Skopje, that the government and Mr. Tsipras personally, handled the issue from the very start of negotiations with divisive tactics, aiming at dividing the main opposition party internally. At no point in the talks did he seek to shape a broader consensus. His only objective was to create problems for the opposition.

Indicative of this logic is the prime minister’s stance towards his junior partner in the ruling coalition. While Mr. Kammenos declares right and left that he will vote down the agreement, going as far as to threaten to expel the MPs of his Independent Greeks party who do not follow his line, Mr. Tsipras views that as absolutely logical, and as something to be expected.

Even as he accuses the leader of the main opposition of “unprecedented political opportunism” and of pitiful institutional acrobatics, he not only turns a blind eye to his partner, but goes as far as to extol his sense of consequence. According to the prime minister, Mr. Kammenos can refuse to vote for the agreement, but he has a principled stance. Going even further, he said Kammenos is not a peddler of patriotism and will not topple the government.

What the prime minister forgets is that without the vote of the Independent Greeks, his government does not exist. The acceptance of that reality is the actual institutional acrobatics, of which he accuses his political opponents.

In no institutionally well-ruled country does one consider it political opportunism when an opposition figure criticises an international agreement, whereas if he is the prime minister’s partner, he is a responsible politician who honours his principles.

It is politically irrational on a crucial national issue for the prime minister to believe that he has the trust of the parliament if certain opposition MPs vote for the agreement, whereas it will be voted down by the ruling coalition partner, thanks to whom he continues to rule.

As many votes as the agreement with FYROM may garner, and as many acrobatics as his partner does, Mr. Tsipras will have lost the necessary political legitimisation to continue to govern.

He cannot bypass that by cultivating a polarised and divisive climate in the country, with the hope of saving himself.