His party is split, government undermined and the economy lies in tatters. Yet in the rubble of Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reigns supreme.
In the six months since he became prime minister, Tsipras breezed past challengers at home, new and old, as he followed an election victory with backing for his anti-bailout message in a referendum. After yielding to his European peers, next month he may be signing a third financial rescue that he opposed, while capital controls keeping money in Greece remain.
The paradox reflects how punch-drunk Greece has become after years of spending cuts and tax increases by successive governments allied to the euro region’s austerity hawks. For all his doomed brinkmanship, Tsipras’s popularity is unblemished as Greeks blame Europe for their financial punishment, or others in his Coalition of the Radical Left.
“His rhetoric of defiance, resistance and regaining sovereignty flies well with Greek public opinion,” said Wolfango Piccoli, managing director of consulting company Teneo Intelligence in London. “He is by far the most popular politician across the whole spectrum.”
A poll by Kapa Research published on July 14 showed 51.5 percent of Greeks backed the new terms Tsipras agreed to in return for staying in the euro.
The blame for the pension cuts and higher taxes rested with the Europeans, 49 percent said, while 68 percent said Tsipras should lead the country.