Op-Ed/ The referendum will prove the EU democracy

Op-Ed/ The referendum will prove the EU democracy

Athens, July 5, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris, Editor in Chief of IBNA

The radical leader of SYRIZA and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in front of the biggest step of his political career.

The decision to call a referendum on the question YES or NO to the measures proposed by the institutions to agree among themselves and in Greece, involves a large proportion of risk, both politically and economically.

On January 25, 2015, the SYRIZA of 4.6% in 2009 receives 36.17% and forms a coalition government with the right-wing Independent Greeks. Negotiations with the institutions lead to a deadlock after five months, and Alexis Tsipras, trapped both by the lavish promises he had given before the elections, and by the intra-party reactions, resorts to a referendum.

His decision, catches the institutions by surprise, which with the synergy of the EU and the ECB causes the closure of banks, stops the negotiations with the institutions, capital control and a division in the Greek society from other times.

The decision of Alexis Tsipras, although fraught with political risk, based on the available facts, was the only move he could have done under the circumstances.

In January he was elected with the main slogan the tearing of the memoranda. Something which of course proved just a flair. The left government had to show that it tries. That it tries to achieve a mutually beneficial agreement with the institutions.

There are many who argue that he should have called for a referendum earlier, a move that would have given him time to react. I find that the choice to sraw the referendum card at the end of the program was part of his strategy.

Following, as it seemed, to the letter the negotiating strategy of Janis Varoufakis, Tsipras plays to the limits. He picked the last possible moment, having literally emptied the state coffers by paying obligations to lenders without getting any money from the program since August 2014, to bring opposite the lenders, not only the Greek government, but an entire nation.

Tsipras involves the Greek people in the “game”. He is taking them off the sofa and cues them in front of the ATMs. Some tried to charge the closure of banks, but the world after five years memoranda understand, grumbled while but wait patiently, something unusual for a Greek.

The way things are now, if this situation continues there will be an issue a humanitarian crisis more serious than the one currently exist, and the ones solely responsible, according to Tsipras and his staff, will be the institutions. Can the EU can’t afford a humanitarian crisis in a country member? Who can bear the weight of such a decision? Probably no one and Tsipras knows that.

He also knows that a strong NO will give him the strength to negotiate even harder, but above all politically. What he wanted from the beginning, a political solution that would incorporate to the agreement a clear reference to a debt haircut. Something the IMF urgently asks for.

Currently, the game is being played for two things, completely different among the institutions and the Greek government. The institutions want to end with the Left government of SYRIZA. Tsipras wants to delete a part of the debt for it to become viable. These are the differences between them, and not the EUR 450 million, which was the last financial gap in the latest attempt for an agreement.

The referendum of Tsipras was a democratic weapon against a DEMOCRATIC (?) Europe. The masks begin to fall, from the part of the lenders. The democratic reflexes of European citizens have started to be activated. Who will survive will be seen in part by the outcome of the referendum.

Despite the choice of hard austerity policy that emanates from Germany, no matter how great is the aversion of Schaeuble for Greece and the Greek government, the EU has not ceased to be primarily a DEMOCRATIC union. This of course has to be proven in practice.