The worst is clearly behind us.” Panaghiota Mourtidou pondered the words with a gravity unusual for the jovial volunteer. Even now, several days after the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, saw fit to use the phrase, she still feels somewhat bewildered. “Politicians clearly have no idea of the reality on the ground,” she said. “If they did, they wouldn’t make such pronouncements because, really, it couldn’t be worse.”
It is four years since the Guardian met Mourtidou packing food boxes at the Solidarity Club which she and other concerned citizens were running out of the local branch of Tsipras’s then radical Syriza party. At the time, the leftist was an ardent fan of the only political force she truly believed could pull Greece from the depths of financial collapse.
Tsipras’s promise to stamp out austerity, his raised fist and fiery rhetoric appealed to her sense of justice. In the summer of 2013 – almost 18 months before assuming power – he was “our big hope, the big promise of better days”.