The issue of gay adoption was raised during the Syria leader Alexis Tsipras’ Twitter Q&A last night. His answer raised some eyebrows because it signaled a marked shift in his stance on this issue. His answer to the question on gay adoption was, “It is a difficult subject that requires dialogue. There are contradictions in the scientific community about this and we will not include it in our policy program.” In 2012, when anger over Greece’s austerity-driven depression drove enough voters to Syriza to make it a mainstream party, Tsipras openly supported both gay marriage and gay adoption. This view was even mentioned in a Reuters article on the rise of Syriza after the inconclusive 1st national election of that year which capitulated the party from a small fringe party to 2nd place.
Though gay rights is far from the forefront of Greece’s political scene, Tsipras’ answer to this last night is the clearest example thus far of Syriza pulling to the center now that it is on the cusp of power. It has had nearly 3 years now to build upon its newfound popularity and solidify its position as a major force of Greek politics. Now that it is likely to go beyond the status of main opposition party and win enough votes to form a government for the first time, Syriza is trying to pull more centrist and even conservative voters into its support base. Greece is relatively conservative overall compared to many other parts of Europe on social issues such as same-sex marriage and adoption. While support for same-sex marriage and adoption would not be considered as radical in the Netherlands or even “liberal” parts of the United States, in Greece it is not an idea that is as widely accepted. This is a likely reason that Tsipras has softened his view on this issue, but also why some members of Greece’s gay community may now feel betrayed.
We’ve seen Syriza soften its position on the country’s more pressing issue, Greece’s depressed economy. Though he still vows to take hard line against austerity, Tsipras has patted down populist rhetoric commonly used in the past in exchange for a more refined view that Greece’s austerity program does need to go but that remaining in the Eurozone is also of paramount importance. He is indeed focusing more on negotiating for a write-down of Greece’s debt, an idea that several economists agree with. So far, public opinion polls show Syriza with a consistent lead over New Democracy, the party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Financial markets initially panicked at the prospect of a Syriza government once snap elections were announced. In recent days, they have calmed down. An increasing number of voices from the financial community, including the President of the German Institute for German Financial Research, are realizing that a write-down of Greece’s monstrous debt may not be such a crazy idea after all. Syriza moderating may anger some of the party’s more original voters, but it is proving to work when it comes to bringing more moderate, independent voters into its support base.