“Greece today is angry and fearful, divided and conflicted, and will still be after Sunday’s vote.”

With Sunday’s controversial, and confused, Greek referendum clearing its constitutional test in the courts, the Guardian Data Blog rounds-up the polls – as of 12.34pm Friday.  The then-live-blog added

An Ipsos poll just released shows the referendum on a knife-edge. It has yes on 44% and no one point behind on 43%, with 12% still undecided.

The number of undecided respondents underscores the significant potential for volatility, Ipsos said, describing the referendum as “too close to call”.

The poll is the fifth to be released on Friday, with the fourth also giving a narrow lead to the yes camp.

It also shows that, regardless of where they place their own support, more Greeks believe that the yes side will win than think victory will be handed to the no camp.

As I may have mentioned, there are still “a chunk of undecided voters to fight over.”

And via today’s Big G Live-blog, the Economist Intelligence Unit is forecasting a ‘No’.

The EIU forecasts victory for the no camp, but whatever the outcome of the referendum, the stark divisions exposed by the referendum campaign are no basis for a future stable political equilibrium. This, as well as intransigence by Greece’s creditors, will make it difficult to reach a viable agreement on a future financing programme.

Greece today is angry and fearful, divided and conflicted, and will still be after Sunday’s vote. This means that Greece is headed for an even more tumultuous period ahead. With Greek society under immense strain and political divisions becoming sharper, the potential for political extremism will increase. [added emphasis]

We’ll find out in due course about the referendum forecast…  As for the rest…

For the benefit of those who remain wilfully ignorant of the role the Syriza-led Greek Government have played in the unfolding debacle, and you know who you are [they do?! – Ed], this article, described by the Big G’s live-blogger as “provocative”, in the New York Times on Wednesday by historian Mark Mazower is worth reading.

This rhetoric didn’t appear out of thin air. It bears the marks of the milieu that formed Mr. Tsipras as he grew up in the years after Greece’s seven-year military dictatorship ended in 1974. A student culture flourished in the following decades that placed a premium on activism, and saw a revolutionary potential in every high school occupation

It was passionate, literate in Marxist theory, highly factional and partisan. Manifestoes and party lines proliferated. A lot of time was spent in meetings debating the democratic implications of everything from canteens to faculty appointments. Student leaders, obsessed by the history of the German occupation, devoured memoirs of wartime resistance heroes and dreamed of a struggle to rival theirs.

A few of these activists remained in party politics, a smaller number founded communes or became anarchists and a handful flirted with revolutionary violence. Many contributed in important ways to the flourishing cultural and intellectual scene that has emerged in Greece over the past few decades. Most got degrees and jobs and families. And some are now in government.

Having made pledges to voters that they can’t fulfill, Mr. Tsipras and his colleagues present this as their generation’s heroic moment. Bolshevism collapsed; wartime resistance was crushed. But perhaps, they hope, Syriza can lead the country to a new kind of revolutionary victory, striking a decisive blow against international finance capital.

I wouldn’t bet on it.

The last time Greece repudiated its debt was in 1932: a short-term recovery followed, which was already petering out when World War II began. Repudiating debt back then was a positive move because the entire world was doing it and the real costs of default were low.

This time around, the situation is very different. The consequences and costs would be far worse, the potential for domestically generated growth much less, and many of the benefits associated with Europe — Greece as an attractive site for foreign investment, putting its geopolitical position to good use, and the transformation in values that came with the opening up of what was 40 years ago a much more introverted society — will be put at risk.

Thanks to this ill-advised plebiscite, Greece faces major turmoil that will test the democratic institutions it established after 1974. The country doesn’t need a return to the worst excesses of student politics. Still less does it need the overheated rhetoric of violent struggle, national disaster and civil war that is already in the air. Sanity may yet prevail and a “yes” vote on Sunday may finally lead to the formation of the national unity government the country has lacked since the crisis started. If it does not, further political polarization and a future of growing pauperization on the margins of Europe beckons.

There’s a lot of that hankering after imagined past glories/illusionary next great revolution about, and not just in Greece…

Adds  I had intended to work this piece by Hugo Dixon into the original post, but it will have to be an addendum now.

Alexis Tsipras talks so much about democracy that one might think the Greek prime minister is a paragon of virtue when it comes to dealing with the voters. This is not the case. For a start, Tsipras has made a series of wild promises that he cannot deliver. Before January’s election, he pledged that he would tear up the country’s bailout programme while staying in the euro. The two are almost certainly incompatible goals, as the Greek people are now discovering at huge cost.

In advance of Sunday’s referendum, he has given further assurances. One is that savers’ bank deposits are safe. He also said he will have a deal with Greece’s creditors within 48 hours of the plebiscite, if they vote no to the bailout plan. In fact, deposits are at risk and the chance of a deal in two days is virtually nil. A good democrat only promises what he or she can deliver. Tsipras is a demagogue.

Still, worth reading too.  Particularly for this.

If, despite all this, Tsipras loses the referendum and resigns, there will undoubtedly be a narrative presented that Europe undermined a democratic government because it didn’t like the fact that it was so leftwing. The real explanation will be that Tsipras undermined himself with his undeliverable promises, confrontational approach towards creditors, inexperience and inability to read the situation properly.

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