European equity markets might be cheering a deal to extend Greece’s aid by four months, but many ordinary Greeks feel their government has backtracked from its grand promises to strike out the bailout.
Greece’s left-wing government, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras, was given a lifeline Friday when the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers reached a deal to extend the country’s bailout by four months. Greece is now scrambling to present a list of reform proposals in order to secure the financial lifeline.
However some Greek people have accused the new government of back-tracking from election promises that it would “tear-up” the bailout memorandum, overseen by the so-called “troika” of the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission.
Speaking of the deal, Tsipras said that Greece had “won a battle, not the war” with its international lenders and that the “real difficulties” lay ahead for the country.
But not only has Tsipras attracted criticism for trying to present the deal as a win for the country, he has also been accused of merely overseeing a change of names for the bailout. For example, the “troika” is now referred to as “institutions,” and the “memorandum of understanding” is now referred to as the “agreement.”
“To say that we finished off the ‘Memorandum’ and the ‘troika’, just because they changed their names makes me incredibly angry,” Athens-based Giannis Loverdos said on Facebook. “It’s as if Tsipras, [Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis and the others are telling me: ‘We believe that you are stupid…and you will believe whatever lie we tell you.'”
Whereas Kostas Karampas, who also lives in Athens, went further, calling the signing of a new deal “treason” on Facebook. He argued that whoever signs the new bailout agreement and new reform measures were “collaborators and will be judged by the Greek people for ultimate treason.”
One Greek expat in London was more sympathetic to Tspiras’ Syriza party, however.
“I already knew from the beginning that the things that Syriza was promising before the election were not realistic,” mechanical engineer Antonis Kountouriotis told CNBC Monday, adding that he expected the government to make some concessions during negotiations.
“They’ve tried to make an agreement that will benefit Greece and they do not follow a “yes” attitude to everything that the IMF and/or Europe—let’s face it, by Europe I mean Germany—want. I think we’ll have to wait and see whether they keep that attitude of negotiation, and whether they’ll manage to achieve a better agreement for Greece, before we judge them.”
Read More Showdown: Crucial 48 hours for Greece
Tsipras under threat?
Despite the deal, Greece is still at the mercy of its European neighbors. On receiving Greece’s list of proposed reform measures on Monday, its international creditors will either give the green or red light to the bailout extension—and, crucially, whether the reforms are enough to warrant releasing more financial aid to Greece.
The latest agreement also poses a challenge for Tsipras, who rose to prominence as the leader of the anti-austerity party for his no-nonsense, anti-bailout rhetoric. It garnered him support from many Greeks fed up with austerity measures that were a condition of the country’s 240 billion euro ($272 billion) bailout, and saw the party win a snap election in January.
However, although Tsipras has only been in power a month, analysts are questioning whether Friday’s deal—and notably, Greece’s request for an extension after previously shunning the notion—will come back to haunt the prime minister, threatening his credibility as a leader.
Sotirios Zartaloudis, a lecturer in politics at the University of Birmingham, said in a blog post following the deal that Greece’s new government was “threatened by its own populist agenda vis-a-vis its Western partners and its voters.”
“Its fate will be the benchmark for other populist anti-systemic parties throughout Europe,” he wrote Friday.
Far left members of Syriza have also accused their party of abandoning previous election pledges to scrap the country’s bailout.
Manolis Glezos, a Syriza member of the European Parliament and veteran left-wing politician, apologized for his party’s move to placate its lenders.
“I apologize to the Greek people because I took part in this illusion,” he wrote in a blog. “Syriza’s members, friends and supporters … should decide if they accept this situation.”
Although sources within the party were quoted by various media outlets as saying that, most probably Glezos is not well informed about the tough negotiations.
Wolfango Piccoli, managing director of risk consultancy at Teneo Intelligence, warned that the negotiation process had secured Greece only two concessions: a lower primary surplus for 2015 and the acknowledgment that the program will be amended so as to give Athens a greater say on reform proposals. He added that Tsipras’ standing had been “negatively affected” by the talks.
“The agreement allows both sides to save face but also sets the stage for even tenser negotiations over the country’s financial future and for a possible backlash in Greece,” he said in a note Sunday. “The list of reforms to be presented on Monday will be an important factor determining whether Syriza is able to convince its own MPs and voters.”
—CNBC’s Nefeli Agkyridou and Matt Clinch contributed reporting to this story.