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A proud member of the reality based commentosphere since 2000. You can find my two Eurocent mainly at liberal and centrist discussion threads, but also at some other surprising places. Also tweeting now, as user "graygoods".

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Greek Referendum - Good or Bad?

I'm not a fan of the referendum, but that's mainly because Europe can't really afford now to let two months pass before the rescue plan (including the haircut) gets an up or down vote by the people. Two months of uncertainty creates too much damage to the economy in Greece and the EU. The stock markets, the investors and the financial sector need a clear roadmap now, January is very far away.

However, Papandreou has a very good case regarding governance, national responsibility and democracy. No real democrat can steadfastly oppose a vote by the people on a matter of national importance! Democracy is about political participation of the people, after all, it's about decisions on the future of the nation. It's NOT about the power of the parties in the first place, that's just a means to reach that goal. So, when the opposition sees a referendum as a "democratic deviation" and an "ideological terrorization", they have to explain this very questionable view of the nature of democracy!

This vote by the people can create more clarity in the minds, too. After all that time of widespread criticism, culminating in violent unrest, it's high time that every citizen makes up his/her mind about the issues. You can't responsibly say "Oxi!" (Greek for "no") to every reform plan and criticize all changes, but refuse to present any alternatives, that's hypocritical. Since people don't trust the politicians to make the right decisions (as is obvious from all the polls), they have to take the responsibility into their own hands! To shout "blackmail" now is simply ridiculous. THIS is the time for every good citizen to show responsibility and participate in making a very important decision for the nation! Only demagogues who have their own selfish interests in mind will oppose this based on alleged concerns about democracy.

So, if your primary concern is to advance democracy, you have to support this move. After all the polarization, it will finally result in the people being alerted that they have not only rights, but patriotic duties, too, most importantly responsibility for the future of Greece. Hopefully, this will result in more support for the painful but necessary reforms. As the Greek senior citizen Dionysia Aggelopolou stated towards reporters of news agency Reuters: ”Let us decide whether it is good or bad. I’ve been through worse, tough times, war. Do we really want to go back to those days?”

Update: According to recent news reports, the referendum will probably be held on December 4th. That's only a month away, so I think that's reasonable. Imho the EU/IMF should respect this and support the Greek government with one billion euros from the rescue tranche in order to prevent the nation from defaulting before the vote. As I see it, that would also be a positive signal to the Greek people, showing them that the Troika is standing by the rescue deal if the referendum supports that.

(This posting is based on a comment posted at AthensNews.gr)

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