Le Monde Diplomatique article on the Greek referendum

2 Nov

The English edition of Le Monde Diplomatique has published an article on the Greek referendum by one of The Current Moment co-editors. With leaders and commentators across Europe criticizing Papandreou’s decision, the article argues it is a welcome development. It is both an opportunity to develop alternatives to what is currently being offered both by the EU and by the Greek government and it exposes some key anti-democratic features of the Eurozone.



5 Responses to “Le Monde Diplomatique article on the Greek referendum”

  1. Annette Freyberg-Inan November 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    I too was frankly impressed by Papandreou’s move. But I do not dare hope for a serious alternative to emerge for Greek’s choice between a) the devil of EU protectorate status or b) the deep blue sea of being cut adrift while sinking. In fact, I believe that will remain the choice, alas. However, Papandreou’s move was simply the smartest one to make given the following likely propositions:
    1. The Greeks would revolt against further cut-backs imposed on them by his government.
    2. Therefore the measures even if passed would not be properly implemented or have the required effects.
    3. This would mean Greece would still face the serious risk of option b) above.
    4. Plus Papandreou’s political future and that of his like-minded would of course be seriously hurt.
    All in all a sure loss for Papandreou and his and a very likely loss for the country.
    5. In the referendum the Greeks may yet vote yes. (He will of course do all he can to make it so.)
    6. Then the cut-backs would have better chances of being properly implemented and have the desired effects.
    7. The EU would ultimately be pleased and forget about how pissed off it is now.
    8. And Papandreou and his fellows would escape the hard times relatively unscathed.
    This seems to me “The Art of Governing 101”. I am surprised apparently no-one in Brussels, Berlin, or Paris saw it coming.

  2. The Current Moment November 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    It is a good point that Sarkozy, Merkel and others should have seen this coming. In fact, there was some discussion about a possible referendum in Greece a while back but it didn’t seem a very serious proposition. We thought it was a good idea at the time but suspected the government wouldn’t go for it for fear of antagonizing too much it’s European peers. In the event, Papandreou’s calculation does seem to be about calling the protest movement’s bluff. In the event, there is probably a strong proportion of the population who is currently remaining at home but who would come out to vote in favour of the package if asked. Their scepticism is above all directed at their own government, meaning that they prefer the tutelage of the EU to trying anything unorthodox themselves. It is probably this doubt about the viability of national strategies that will save the EU plan. Papandreou may be cleverly pushing his own people into a corner, forcing them to vote on their own EU membership in order to push harder with reforms but calculations have a manner of unravelling and unpredictable things can happen.

  3. Infidel753 November 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    One has to wonder whether “being cut off from the Eurozone, or even the EU” would really mean “unimaginable chaos”. Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland seem to be doing OK. Britain and and Denmark have come through some of the recent economic troubles better because they retain the flexibility of having their own currencies. (Britain’s recovery has lately stalled, but that’s because the Conservative government has enacted austerity policies — the same disastrous prescription the EU is forcing on other member states).

    And if Papandreou were still a loyal EU man and the referendum merely a gambit to call the protest movement’s bluff, it’s rather odd that he offended the powers-that-be in Brussels, Berlin, and Paris by not informing them of the referendum before announcing it publicly. Maybe they finally pushed him too far with the latest round of insane austerity demands? He is supposed to be a socialist, and the measures the EU has been forcing on Greece are the antithesis of everything socialism stands for.

    • The Current Moment November 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

      We certainly agree that life outside either the Eurozone or the EU is not unimaginable nor necessarily chaotic. However, that is how it appears to both leaders and to domestic populations. There is no serious plan for Greece’s exit from the EU or the Euro being proposed by anyone either within the Greek government, in Brussels or on the ground in Greece. One advantage of a referendum might have been that it would serve as a way of developing such an alternative. In terms of Papandreou’s motives, it is difficult to guess why he opted for a referendum without consulting his European peers. Probably because they would have said no. Presumably, he feels he has little alternative: unable to push reforms through with only the pressure from Brussels, he has tried to create his own stick by getting the population to vote on their EU membership. Most likely now is a technical, caretaker government that will pursue the austerity measures, though there is no guarantee that this will succeed any more than what has been tried to far.


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