By Vasiliki Siouti

Did Syriza do a backflip, or didn’t it? If the question were posed somewhat differently – let’s say, did it make a 180 degree turn – it might be easier to answer.
Yes, it has made a turn, but it’s still a bit soon to describe it as 180 degrees. Whether it will complete this turn or return to its original position remains to be seen. What is certain, given the speed of recent political developments, is that whatever is going to happen, will happen soon.
Though we can’t yet say that it’s done a proper backflip, we can take a look at how far off-course it has veered.
Syriza’s first policy goal was: “We are canceling the memoranda and the laws enforcing them.” With the Eurogroup decision of 20 February, however, the government was bound to respect, not cancel, the agreements. Internally, the party maintains that it is bound only for four months, an interpretation that is not borne out by the agreement itself. It remains to be seen whether or not the government will choose to honor its agreement.
Syriza’s other major goal was the renegotiation of its loan agreement and a write-off of the larger part of the debt. Instead of renegotiation, though, it ended up asking for a four-month extension (and for the moment is only renegotiating which measures it will enforce in order to complete the assessment and receive the next loan installment). The issue of the debt write-off has not been raised after 25 January by the party leadership.
Pre-election Syriza was anti-budget surplus and said that: “Public money will come from taxing wealth, net profit, high incomes, large real estate holdings and church assets, rolling back the privileges of the oligarchy and the multinationals and ending the recession.”
Today it accepts the logic of surpluses, though these imply the austerity it was going to end. As for taxing wealth, the oligarchy and the church, it has not done so for the moment, even via a symbolic gesture, or a more specific proposal indicating intent.  On the contrary, Varoufakis’ emails to date don’t contain a single measure that would mirror this intent, beyond rhetorical assertions.
Another Syriza goal was: “We are placing the banking system under public ownership and oversight, and radically altering its modus operandi and goals.” We don’t need to explain that until now nothing has changed in the banking system and that it continues to be managed by the same bankers on whose shoulders Syriza threw so much blame.
A basic pre-election position of Syriza was the cancellation of privatizations. Instead, Y. Varoufakis agreed, on behalf of the government, not to cancel any.
They were also talking about eliminating the Troika, but what they did was to change its name and the location of the meetings, and to negotiate a more discreet presence. Its functional role has not, for the moment, been eliminated.
As for the memorandum, the government maintains that it has been split from the loan agreement, for which it requested an extension, but this – aside from the fact that it is not corroborated by the other member states- does not come through in the documents for the extension that have been made public.
All of the above constitute a clear retreat by Syriza’s leadership from its declared goals. Just prior to the elections it had, in fact, prepared a “miminalist” version of its Thessaloniki program, which it had promised to enforce without delay and prior to negotiations with lenders. But for the moment it cannot realize even this, having agreed not to proceed with any “unilateral actions” without lender approval. The estimated cost of the Thessaloniki program was 12 billion euros but only a much smaller piece of it, amounting to 200 million euros, is being advanced.
Alexis Tsipras and his staff are presenting this retreat as tactical moves to gain time and insist that despite Varoufakis’ promises to lenders, the program will proceed normally and that they will soon pass the promised bills. What is clear is that there was never a serious preparation for the touted alternative proposal, for a plan of their own, researched, complete and well-worked out. The strategy of the team hinged mainly on…”the charity of strangers.”
In other words, on the support they expected to find on the part of the U.S.A, France, Italy, Draghi and Juncker, who for their own reasons want Germany pressured to loosen its rigid policies. But the ability of our “allies” to help seems limited for the moment. Previous U.S. efforts on behalf of George Papandreou had also had zero success. As for the European “allies,” beyond some rather ineffective moves, in the Eurogroup they are unanimously siding with Germany against Greece.
The pressures, the blackmail, the threats of bankruptcy and the public pillorying were completely predictable, as the same had happened to George Papandreou (who, according to subsequent reports, had been subjected to savage bullying). A close associate of Alexis Tsipras recently stated in a televised appearance that it was all expected. Thus, there is no excuse for a lack of preparation.
In a war – actual, diplomatic or economic – a win or a loss is always a possibility. But it is very different if you go to war prepared for a picnic.

Despite the governments backpedalling, nothing is yet fixed and all possibilities are open. For hope to survive we need – in addition to seriousness and responsibility – to focus more on policy and less on public relations. 

Translation by Lydia Maniatis. Find the original version in Greek here