(Bloomberg) — “A Day with Yanis Varoufakis,” a satirical
post doing the rounds on social media, shows the Greek finance
minister spending his waking hours feted by adoring fans. He
goes to sleep and is jolted awake by a nightmare of German
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cackling.

In what’s turning that nightmare into reality, Greece’s
month-old anti-austerity government led by Prime Minister Alexis
Tsipras had a rude awakening last Friday when German-led
pressure forced it to pedal back on most election pledges in the
face of national insolvency. On the streets of Athens, Greeks
used to political flip-flops in the five years of their odyssey
to financial health are taking what has been a capitulation in
their stride.

“When you have your hand outstretched and they say there’s
no money, that’s when you put your hands up in the air,” said
Alexandra Dimopulos, 60, a retired civil servant. “You may have
all the good intentions in the world but that means nothing when
you have no money for them.”

Tsipras huddled with his lawmakers in the parliament on
Feb. 25 for more than 10 hours after euro-area partners signed
off on a Greek commitment to a four-month loan extension based
on promises the government would stick closely to the bailout
plan it had pledged to the country’s citizens it would tear up.

While ordinary Greeks say they appreciate the government’s
efforts to argue their case, albeit unsuccessfully, the reversal
may test the unity of the ruling party, which teamed up with a
smaller anti-austerity group to win the majority it needed to
govern. Manolis Glezos, a 92-year-old Syriza European Parliament
lawmaker and World War II resistance veteran, has already
criticized the agreement.

Challenge Within

“The biggest challenge for the government right now is not
the rather tame opposition in parliament, it is the opposition
inside the senior party Syriza itself,” said Jens Bastian, a
former member of the European Commission’s Greek task force, in
a Bloomberg TV interview. “How you manage expectations among
that constituency, that will be the real challenge.”

Varoufakis evoked the Odyssey, the ancient Greek poem by
Homer that former Prime Minister George Papandreou referred to
in 2010 when he accepted cuts to wages and pensions in return
for what would become 240 billion euros ($269 billion) in loans
from euro-area partners and the International Monetary Fund.

“Sometimes like Ulysses you need to tie yourself to a mast
in order to get to where you’re going and to avoid the sirens,”
said Varoufakis. “We intend to do this.”

Papandreou’s support and ability to pass austerity measures
demanded by the country’s creditors was whittled down one seat
at a time amid violence and riots and protests by tens of
thousands of Athenians camped in front of Parliament until he
lost power at the end of 2011.

Greeks don’t want to see a return to those days.

‘Good Easter’

“There are always reactions within parties, in all parties
when things don’t go according to plan,” Paraskevi Psyhidou,
50, who owns a souvenir store in the old neighborhood of Plaka.
“I am hoping for a good Easter, no problems, no upheaval.”

Polls show support for Tsipras surging since he won
elections, providing a wellspring of support among the public
even amid rumblings from his party cadres.

A Feb. 22 Public Issue survey of 1,008 people questioned
between Feb. 12 and Feb. 17, before the agreement was reached in
Brussels, showed 64 percent believed the country to be on the
right path, a finding that was the highest in at least 20 years,
according to the pollster. Three times as many people supported
the direction the country was taking after the election as did
before the vote.

Feelings of hope and optimism soared to 29 percent from 10
percent before the election. Tsipras has a personal approval
rating of 87 percent, climbing 42 percentage points after his
election.

Not Over

“At least they’re trying to negotiate,” said Konstantinos
Velounakis, 55, who owns a jewelry store in central Athens, and
didn’t vote for Tsipras. “I hadn’t seen that before. They’ve
put the word out that we’re not all in the same boat, north and
south, and that’s good.”

The public support may be critical to Tsipras’s ability to
stick to the agreement reached with euro-area partners.

While the main sentiment in Greece is hope, in Brussels the
word being bandied about is “trust”. The euro-area finance
ministers had barely approved the Greek outline of plans to
appease creditors, when European Central Bank President Mario
Draghi and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde heaped on
more pressure.

Draghi said the key to Greece winning more funding were
“commitments” on legislation. Lagarde pressed for specifics
and “clear assurances” that reforms will happen.

For some Greeks, that kind of pressure means the government
will be forced to put in place measures they have been opposed
to.

“They said one thing and are doing something different —
this is to be expected,” said Psyhidou. “We don’t have the
money. The Odyssey is not finished yet. We have a way to go.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Maria Petrakis in Athens at
mpetrakis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Vidya Root at
vroot@bloomberg.net
Vidya Root, John Simpson