This recaps on a tweetstorm this morning. Perhaps it’s all a cunning plan, or misrepresenation by the media, but if not, the current media strategy of Syriza is worrying.
1. There is a remarkable amount of cross-section variation (ie across different Syriza representatives) and time-series variation in what is being demanded or proposed. We have had variation on how to treat legacy debt; the difference between G and T going forwards (the primary surplus), and even who would be dealt with.
2. This makes me think that they had not thought through clearly what they would say they would do or wanted, nor what they would actually do and accept.
3. If that’s the case, perhaps they were caught out by how many seats they won, and had only wargamed on the assumption that they would have to form a centre-left coalition and water down their demands at the outset, at the point of coalition-formation, ie before confronting the Troika.
4. If 3 was right, that would account for why the detail behind the more robust demands was not there, and why the tough line was hard to maintain.
5. All this is a shame, because as many have observed, even if there is an agreement to be had, the dispute could still end in Grexit by accident.
6. And there is no real excuse for not being prepared. There was and is plenty of free help around to plan everything thoroughly.
7. I’d say that this cross-section and time-series variability in Syriza demands makes a bad outcome more likely.
8. The Troika might take it as a sign of weakness, take heart, and try to ram home a solution too close to the status quo, which ultimately fails.
9. Or this could be a sign Syriza don’t really know what they would settle for, nor what they could deliver.
10. A more forgiveable reason for the shifting talk is that what can be delivered, or what might have to be accepted is shifting, as capital flows out of Greece, and tax collection collapses.
11. You can see how this creates an unfortunate feedback loop. Uncertainty about what Syriza wants causes capital to fly, taxes to fall, which causes what Syriza can achieve/deliver to scale back, which causes the rhetoric to change, and so on.
12. Despite all this criticism, it’s hard for Syriza to fashion a proper approach. Re-engineering debt that is symbolic only now (it will never be repaid regardless) is hard to make meaningful to ones partners….
13. And as I’ve said before, the other main bit of the bargain, the future primary surplus, is now an unforcastable chimera. No-one has any idea what it would be on unchanged policy, since no-one can tell what tax collection will recover to.