By Antonis Karakousis

The political events of the last days did not come out of the blue.

Everyone expected these developments based on the great political antitheses that emerged due to the FYROM naming issue, but no one believed that the Prespa Agreement would reach its final stage (ratification of the accord in the Hellenic Parliament).

Deceptions and desires did not allow most to clearly analyse the PM’s initiative and the depth of the choice that he made one year ago.

Those who closely monitored political developments had at the time warned that Mr. Tsipras’ decision to defend resolving the issue with FYROM was not an impulsive move, but rather a strategic choice, with depth and a long-term political objective

Through all this Mr. Tsipras wanted to ensure that he would be the second pole in an emerging system of two-party dominance.

He sought to be recognised as the sole opponent of [main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos]Mitsotakis, by exploiting an issue of national import that has divided Greek society for nearly three decades.

The PM thought and continues to believe that this highlights and trumpets the distinction between him and the country’s conservative forces.

Hegemonic role in centre-left

He thought that in this manner he would have an opportunity to redefine his and his party’s position and free himself of the “improper” and exhausted political relationships of his first period in office, and thus redefine himself in order to play a hegemonic role in the centre-left in Greece.

New Democracy’s rejection of the Prespa Agreement greatly facilitated and confirmed the PM’s aim.

In pursuing this objective, Mr. Tsipras was greatly aided by the failure of efforts to unite the Greek centre-left – which sought to bring into a coalition Pasok, the Potami party, the Democratic Left and others.

In single-handedly defending the Prespa Agreement and fully and unreservedly assuming the political cost of the entire affair, Mr. Tsipras indeed managed to distinguish himself and stand apart.

No one can any longer doubt that Mr. Tsipras is the second pole of the political system, opposite Mr. Mitsotakis. Moreover, no one can doubt that the other smaller parties on both the right and left will be crushed in the heightened polarisation.

The Independent Greeks have already left the game. The centre-left Movement for Change is under insufferable pressure. The Potami party is breaking up into smaller configurations with links to larger parties, and the Centrists’ Union is withering.

By all appearances, Mr. Tsipras on 16 January will win the confidence of parliament which he seeks, and shortly thereafter he will ratify the Prespa Agreement even more comfortably.

That will be followed by the passing of bills to aid large swathes of society, the approval of the constitutional revision, and a barrage of international contacts and meetings that will “illuminate” his contribution to international affairs.

Planning a derby

In this way, the PM hopes to limit the wear and bruises of governance and create the conditions of a horse race that will not let up.

Mr. Tsipras wants to turn the forthcoming election into a real derby. He wants to achieve the best possible result in order to remain the unchallenged leader of the opposition and of broader “progressive” forces, so as to credibly prepare his return to power.

That is Mr. Tsipras’ stratagem, which he has been pursuing for the last year.

Whoever cannot see that is simply turning a blind eye.