Wednesday, 8 July 2015


Nothing has been decided, yet (Angela is still thinking). 

The referendum in Greece stunned most of the Greek media who did not expect a landslide victory for the “No” side. After one week of capital controls, with banks not opening and long queues at the ATMs to extract a daily allowance of 60 Euros, many thought that the result would be much, much closer. But despite these measures, which, it was thought, would promote caution among voters, the “No” vote apparently soared in the last few days. Now, a lot of people think that it was exactly this kind of pressure that made many Greeks swing to the “No” side.

It is widely accepted that the refusal of the EU to maintain a level of normalcy during the one week period before the voting day made a lot of “Yes” proponents decide to stay at home, as they felt ashamed to support those that tried to manipulate an internal issue of the Greek people in such a blunt and interventionist way. It also tipped the balance towards the “No” vote for a lot of people who were sitting on the fence.

As much as the other aspects of the “No” vote, what voters were rejecting here was an economical attempt to bury the democratic rights of the Greeks and blackmail the voters. Add to this the fact that the majority of the public figures that came out for the “Yes” side were from the parties responsible for the present financial crisis, and many of them have been accused of corruption, and you can understand why a lot of Greeks decided to vote “No,” even in a country that is strongly Europhile, according to polls.

Much the same thing can be said about the barrage of “Yes” propaganda from the major media networks. Rather than actually trying to convince Greeks of the merits of the “Yes” case, most of this simply tried to browbeat and brainwash. The “No” vote was therefore a clear rejection of those media tactics.

"Fuck EU" sure feels good. But for how long? 
But while the “No” vote was a reaction against several things, the real question remains, what did the Greeks actually end up voting for?

While many European bureaucrats and politicians declared publicly that the Greeks were voting for or against the Euro currency, the plain truth is that the question in the referendum was whether the Greeks approved of a specific bailout plan offered by the European Commission, a plan that was no longer even on the table five days before the referendum took place. But even stranger than this was the essential similarity between this plan and the Greek government’s own plan. Both alike called for austerity and major tax reforms.

Right now everyone is deciphering the result of the referendum in his own way, depending on his political and national interests. But the result does not, in any way, impose any kind of decision on the Greek government, and that's because the question to which the Greeks had to answer “Yes” or “No” was actually no longer relevant.

One of the main accusations made against the SYRIZA government was that it did not reveal its own bailout plan in the period before the referendum, that it simply did not give a real alternative to the Brussels plan.

The truth is that one of the major reasons for the referendum was that neither the Greek government’s plan nor the Brussels plan would have been passed by the government majority. Because SYRIZA is an unwieldy a coalition of leftist and extreme leftist parties, it is more than probable that it would have been incapable of convincing its own MP's to vote for its own plan, even in the unlikely event of that plan being accepted by Brussels and the IMF. With the referendum though, and a week-long terror campaign by the conservative parties about the dangers of non-agreement, it seems that SYRIZA is past that obstacle, and any agreement it reaches will now be accepted by parliament.

Rewriting the script or just heckling from the sidelines?
So, negotiations with Brussels and the main proponents of austerity Germany will take place. Right now the situation is quite unclear, because, after five months of failed negotiations, there are circles in the European Union that want to keep Greece in the fold and circles that want to see it leave. Already European politicians of the South, like the Italian minister of finance or the French President Hollande have made their wish for the return of Greece to the negotiation table clear. On the other hand, a lot of German and Central European politicians have declared that they can not imagine a deal with Greece. So the EU is split.

The Russian foreign ministry also made a declaration just a couple hours after the result of the referendum was announced, noting that the possibility of Grexit from the Eurozone was now a lot stronger, and that Russia and BRICS in general would stand by Greece.

However, Grexit and a subsequent return to a Greek national currency does not seem to be Alexis Tsipras’s goal. The removal of Mr. Yiannis Varoufakis, the finance minister, early on Monday morning does seem to indicate that there will be at least an attempt for an agreement on a bailout plan. It was a well known fact that Mr Varoufakis managed to become a persona non grata at the negotiations table. Thus his absence from further negotiations can be interpreted as a sign of good faith from the Greek side. This Sunday will probably be the decisive day.

Related articles:
What Financial Crisis? Greece's Government Electing a New People Anyway
Seriously SYRIZA (podcast)
Greece (and the EU) Chooses Red Dusk rather than Golden Dawn

The Unfortunate Non-Demise of the Euro

Dimitrios Papageorgiou is the editor of Patria Magazine

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