The surprise call for a sudden referendum seems to indicate that Tsipras and Syriza want to make sure that the public shares the blame for Greece crashing out of the Euro.
In the aftermath of yesterday’s “nuclear option” announcement by Greece, when in a dramatic after-midnight speech Greek PM Tsipras announced that Greece would hold a referendum next Sunday, the day after the US independence day, the same Greek government made it very clear how it wants the Greeks to vote.
First, it was the Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, head of the Left Platform movement of Syriza, who said in comments broadcast on state-run ERT TV that a no vote by the Greek people in July 5 referendum “will open the road for a new future for the country” adding that “the dilemma facing Greeks is “whether to live better or not. Greek people are aware of difficulties of a new starting point, they’re ready to support new national effort.”
Then the alternate health and social security minister Dimitris Stratoulis doubled down telling ERT-TV that Greeks are being given the opportunity to decide the way forward and “I’m optimistic” that they will give a “resounding” no to the “provocative” demands of the country’s creditors. The only issue is the question being put to the people in the referendum.” It got better when he said that “Greeks are being asked to vote whether the country should be a colony, or not, of creditors.”
Well, if that’s how the referendum question is indeed phrased then yes, it is clear how the Greeks will vote.
As was to be expected, the Greek opposition parties, except for the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn, expressed horror at the referendum. Conservative main opposition leader Antonis Samaras accused Tsipras’ radical left government of advocating an exit from the eurozone and the European Union. “Mr Tsipras has led the country to an absolute impasse,” he said. “Between an unacceptable agreement and leaving Europe.”
Why? Because they know that despite the referendum move, which is clearly just a last ditch attempt by Tsipras to save his political career by punting the decision straight to the people, if there is a “Yes” vote to the proposed bailout, then Syriza is out and new elections have to follow.
As for the reason why Tsipras had to punt, it is a simple one: at the core of the ongoing Greek negotiation debacle is the inability of the local people to decide what they want: according to various recent polls 80% of Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone and keep the Euro currency, the problem is that 80% also want an end to austerity. Two conditions which are mutually exclusive. It is no surprise then that Tsipras had no clue how to proceed based on his mandate.
Getting out of the Euro and the EU is absolutely the right move for the Greeks, but they’re afraid to go ahead and do it. But given the unacceptable price of the status quo, which is unemployment levels higher than anything the USA saw in the Great Depression, it looks as if they may be forced to do the right thing.