All elections come with an element of risk from which Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, will not be exempted. Will cruel fate reduce him to a footnote in history or will his calculated gamble pay off?After seven months of rollercoaster drama under his stewardship, there is limited appetite for yet more ructions. Above all, the electorate is exhausted – worn out by austerity and politicians flip-flopping over policies that have hollowed out their country over five long years. Greeks will go to the polls with their economy in tatters, capital controls in force, their international reputation shattered, their political system more unstable than ever before. To a great degree Tsipras, their first leader from the radical left, is to blame for this. So why is he doing it and why is he doing it now? Even polls at this stage in the game cannot be guaranteed. Until July, Tsipras was the undisputed leader of the political scene, hovering over it with deft deployment of canniness and charisma. After the country’s latest rescue – and the onerous terms the young prime minister has agreed to – his popularity ratings will surely have been dented. In a matter of weeks he has lost more than a quarter of his own MPs, radicals who not only feel he has betrayed the cause but will campaign as the only leftists now left to carry the anti-bailout flame.Few politicians have so reneged on their pre-electoral promises as the Syriza leader, who came to power vowing to “cancel” austerity and all the evils it had visited on Greece. And, yet, paradoxically Tsipras remains more popular than any of his political rivals. His handling of negotiations with international creditors has not elicited the widespread condemnation one might have expected. Most Greeks still regard the tortuous talks as a robust defence of their rights. The fact that the terms attached to the €86bn (£61bn) rescue were harder than any to date has ultimately been seen as better than euro exit. And unlike any prime minister to date Tsipras has been credited with internationalising the problem of Greece’s unsustainable debt burden. The International Monetary Fund, one of three creditors to Greece and once the country’s harshest economic critic, has become the biggest proponent of debt relief as the basis for recovery. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Alexis Tsipras resigns: ‘I am proud of the battle I have fought’Athens may have lost the war but among the Greek electorate there are many who believe it has won a moral victory over its eurozone partners. Tsipras, the logic goes, is the only man who can truly transform Greece. The application of neo-liberal policies on a resistant populace can only come from the left, a left untainted by corruption and other maladies that have held the nation back.With a new mandate, after fresh polls, the one-time Marxist would not only be able to reinvent himself as a progressive moderate, but as the politician who had saved Greece from itself and eschewed euro ejection. By triggering an election so soon, many believe he will be able to outmanoeuvre his internal foes in Syriza before an impoverished population feel the impact of further tax increases and other bailout measures.By the time international inspectors return to Athens to conduct their first bailout review in October, it might be too late to capitalise on his popularity at all.Yet all of this presupposes a certain rationale: that at the ballot box Greeks will weigh their options, think logically and vote for the man who has rolled back on almost every pledge he has ever made. His critics are many and they are girding for battle determined to prove the point that in politics you can never rule out surprise.