Thursday, July 02, 2015

But Yes or No to what? Greece decides on Sunday.

Greeks lining up at ATM - Thessaloniki

On Sundays Greeks go to the polls to vote. They will be asked to vote Yes or No. But Yes or No to what? The question seems to produce an endless array of answers, which have left Greeks arguing passionately for the past week, both on social media and in real life.For the economically minded supporters of the Yes side, it is a vote to stay in the Eurozone, to retain a stable currency and avoid the risks of introducing a new, untried currency which may or may not be worthless. It's a Yes to open banks, pensions being paid on time and a step away from the financial abyss. For conservatives it's a Yes to membership of the European Union and a step away from what they see as rabid, socialist madness.

In the No camp, a No is a refusal to accept an creditor imposed austerity plan which has crushed the Greek economy and even on its own terms is a failure. For the more nationalistically minded its is a vote for independence, a chance to show foreigners that Greeks will not and cannot take any more crap from either Washington, Brussels or Berlin.

In the maelstrom of debate, the usual lines that divide the Greek Left and Right have been blurred, muddled and sometimes utterly forgotten. Nor, as it is sometimes portrayed as a fight between haves and have nots. Whilst those in the Yes camp are amply represented in the country's oligarch controlled media, the poll number are not restricted to just those who've weathered six years of austerity with their wealth intact. Pensioners fearful of their future, owners of businesses both large and small as well as those fearful of the consequences of a Grexit have swelled the Yes vote.

On the other hand the No vote included those with little to lose from maintaining the status quo, such as the unemployed and young voters who see that more of the same in a nation with record high unemployment is not an option. Also there are those who  are sick of Greece's continual humiliation at the hands of the EU, ECB and IMF and wish to show these institutions that enough is enough, no matter what the cost. The fact that political Ancien Regime, discredited by corruption and ineptitude has thrown its weight behind the Yes vote is just further proof that a No vote is justified.

What will happen on Sunday, I do not know. If you'd asked me a week ago I would have said that the Yes vote will win comfortably, but given the fact that EU leadership smugly seems to betting on this combined with a week long fear campaign on TV makes me think that perhaps that things will turn out differently. The same political forces that tried so hard to crush Syriza in the January elections are once again openly playing their hand, and there's a chance they'll fail now as they failed then.

Once again the crude political intervention of the ECB which stopped lending to Greek banks via ELA so starving them of liquidity along with the arrogance of various German politicians simply fuel the No vote  just as the intervention of English politicians in the Scottish independence referendum aided the rise of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

Whilst people are angry they cannot take out money from their saving accounts and fearful for their future, there is a growing sense that they will not bow down and take anymore. Whether their vote is based on carefully calibrated deliberation or knee jerk nationalism, the result will be the same in the polling booths on Sunday.


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