by Mihalis Panayotakis* |glr
As the Greek Prime Minister is already in Cannes to meet with the G20 leaders and “discuss” the prospect of a referendum on the rescue package, I’ll try to outline some possible outcomes originating from Papandreou’s decision, and hopefully start a discussion on the dynamic of the current situation as a whole…
Let me start with four presuppositions:
I still believe that Papandreou’s game is aimed internally at Greece and that he will fold tonight under G20 pressure (basically Merkozy)
The worldwide explosion that the possibility of referring austerity to be judged by its victims caused, a basic process of democratic legitimization, shows that the Greek government either purposefully or through its incompetence failed to protect its population both during the spring of 2010 and the summer of 2011, from at least the more outrageous of the troika’s demands, although it could have. Greece was then even more so the most powerful country in the world. A 2010 threat to pass acceptance of the IMF programme through a popular plebiscite, would have seriously and drastically reduced the scope of the shock therapy Greece was put through or eliminated it all together, with very important effects on global austeritarian dominance hence.
There is no real way that a referendum on the 26/10 deal can be held on January (or any other month for that matter) in Greece. The real threat is the threat of a sustained threat. Read the rest of this entry »
The Greek PM’s decision to uphold a referendum caught everyone off guard. So we are told. The long list includes his own party affiliates, key-members of the government, other political forces in Greece, his european counterparts, various EU officials, the “markets”, the rating agencies, the White House and so on.
But did it really come out the blue? For anyone with an eye on current Greek politics – and there are quite a few these days all over the world – the PM’s decision may seem not as unexpected as it appears in the first read.
The rising social and political tensions which have been making headlines all year long climaxed a couple of days ago with the widespread spontaneous expressions of anger and dismay during the celebrations of one of the most important national days of remembrance in Greece. As is well known, the 28th of October celebrations commemorate the WWII resistance marking the anniversary of the refusal of the Greek regime at the time to confront to the German demands. In a day full of symbolisms, Greek crowds took on the streets disrupting military and school parades, chasing down the representatives of the ruling party and even heckling the emblematic figure of the President of the Greek Republic. These largely symbolic events were yet another indicator of the massive popular dismay fueled by an ever expanding democratic deficit in Greece at the moment. And the government had to take some form of “political initiative” as the journalistic jargon would have it. Read the rest of this entry »
Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou’s decision to take the latest agreement on the Greek debt, achieved in Brussels last week, to a referendum and the consequent negative reactions by the markets along with many European politicians reveals the gap not only between the living reality in Athens and Berlin or Paris, but also between democracy and the markets. The Greek government is striving to balance between unpopular decision-making caused from the lack of confidence to the euro by the markets on the one hand and the lack of confidence by the very deprived and disenchanted people these policies are producing, on the other. The unprecedented events of the 28th of October when practically the whole of the country stood up against austerity policies turning the celebrations of the National day of resistance to second world war fascism, into anti-governmental protests, seem to have worked as a catalyst. The Troika policies that are being exercised in the country for the past two years and which have brought misery to millions of Greeks can no longer be sustained in an environment of a deep legitimacy crisis of the political system that is called to implement them. Democratic methods are considered to be a risk to financial stability and the prospect of growth, but can the markets really function without them? Greece has come to the point where it can no longer do otherwise but address the problem with politics. As philosopher Slavoj Zizek recently argued, the political field is opening through the actions of social movements all over the world; and Greece is becoming today Europe’s threshold to the political phase of the crisis.
Read the rest of this entry »
In an open debate the Greek people are unlikely to chose to stay in the euro – something September’s protests made clear
By Costas Lapavitsas*
Originally published in the Guardian
The referendum announced on Monday by the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, is probably the final bell before Greece defaults and quits the euro. Assuming it is not withdrawn amid all the political turmoil afflicting the ruling party, the vote is planned for January, and the issue will presumably be the latest bailout. But the real question will be: “Euro or drachma?”
Greece’s ruling elite understands the dilemma perfectly, hence the negative reaction of political parties and the press to Papandreou’s initiative, with six senior officials of his own party calling on him to resign. If the vote goes against the euro, Greece’s economic, political and diplomatic strategy of the last 30 years would be deeply shaken. The repercussions would be incalculable, for Greece but also for Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
by Yanis Varoufakis originally published at http://yanisvaroufakis.eu 2NOV
Last week, the European Union Council agreed on a set of policies for tackling the euro crisis. It was hoped that the new agreement (hereafter referred to as the October Agreement) would be a decisive step toward resolving a slow burning crisis that threatened to derail the euro, plunge the EU itself into a process of explicit disintegration and, consequently, drag into a new recession the global economy.
Readers of these pages will know that I have taken the view that the October Agreement was made of the wrong stuff (click here, here and here). Others (including President Obama) have praised Europe for moving in the right direction, reserving their doubts and criticism for Europe’s pace along this, ‘righteous’, path. I beg to differ. The October Agreement was catastrophically bad in terms of the direction that it is taking Europe, not just due to its anaemic pace. (In my next posting I plan to sum up all the reasons for which the October Agreement is even worse for Europe than it is for Greece.) If I am right, it was the duty of our political leaders to say NO to it in Brussels last week. Each one of them, Mr Papandreou included, had the opportunity to withhold their signature then, thus causing the EU leadership to keep brainstorming until a decent, workable solution was found; one that would genuinely resolve the euro’s systemic crisis. Read the rest of this entry »
by Costas Douzinas*
The unexpected announcement by Greek PM Papandreou yesterday that he is to call a referendum and ask people to vote about the October 24 agreement is the opening salvo in the endgame of the Greek tragedy. Is this extraordinary gambit a genuine request for a popular mandate or a desperate bluff of a gambler down on his chips? In one obvious way, involving the people in one of the most important decisions of Greek history sounds positive. But as constitutional lawyers and political theorists have explained the use of referenda is not necessarily democratic. Unlike referenda called by a popular initiative, like the recent Italian which reversed the privatisation of water, referenda have been used often to bolster failing governments rather than to give an authentic choice to the people. The formulation of the question by the government according to its priorities, the question’s yes or no character, its lack of nuance and gradation means that on most occasions government referenda are means of blackmailing the people or of forcing an already taken decision. Read the rest of this entry »
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s prime minister said Monday he will consider holding a referendum on further cutbacks essential for the loan-dependent country to continue drawing on funds from an international bailout, amid persistent anti-austerity protests.
“I am prepared, for the great changes that we are putting forward, to use even the institution of a referendum, for the broadest possible consent or opinion,” George Papandreou told his ministers during a marathon informal Cabinet meeting that ran for more than seven hours.
Papandreou has been trying to quell dissent within his own governing Socialists as well as widespread anger among Greeks furious that a year’s worth of painful cutbacks have failed to produce the expected results.
Thousands of people have been holding peaceful protests outside Parliament in Athens every night for nearly two weeks, and frustration increased as it became apparent that the government has to impose yet more spending cuts and tax hikes. Read the rest of this entry »