Barely a week in power, Greece’s new left-wing government is winning over an increasingly enthusiastic domestic audience by moving boldly on populist campaign pledges at home even as it strikes a more moderate note abroad.
Ministers, many sporting Tsipras’s no-tie look, drove up in their own cars on their first day at work last week, some complaining about traffic to waiting cameras. Barricades outside parliament to hold back protesters were taken down. Riot police were notably absent at a demonstration over the weekend, leaving protesters with no one to vent their anger against.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has become a celebrity in the local press with his sporty casual look and Yamaha motorbike and his sporty choice of clothing has drawn both positive and negative reviews in the international lifestyle press, during his recent trips to Paris and London.
A poll for the Parapolitika newspaper conducted last week showed that 68% of Greeks felt positively about Tsipras as Prime Minister. About half of the 1,000 respondents felt hope for the future, outnumbering the 45% who felt anxious.
A second poll, by Public Issue for the SYRIZA mouthpiece Avgi, showed 50% of Greeks felt relieved that SYRIZA won compared to 26% who were indifferent. Nearly 70 percent said that Tsipras’s SYRIZA party -in power for the first time on a national level- was ready to govern.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests a changing public mood in a country that three years ago topped a Gallup poll of most pessimistic nations in the world. Motorists rolled down their window on Friday to shout “Alexis, we love you!” outside Tsipras’s prime ministerial mansion.
To be sure, many Greeks share remain skeptical about whether the new government can offer a lasting solution to their problems, let alone deliver on its promises while facing depleted state coffers and a standoff with European creditors. But, for the time being, most Greeks appear optimistic – either by choice, or by nature.