Greek Referendum: A Win Win for Europe.
So the Greek vote has lobbed a grenade into the Eurozone. Nobody should be surprised. After five years of austerity resulting in massive unemployment, extreme levels of poverty, a startling rise in suicide and 30% wipe out of Greek’s GDP; Greek voters yesterday stood against the economic ‘terrorists’ and ‘blackmailers’ and openly supported their government giving them a clear mandate to negotiate a better deal.
Despite the celebrations on the streets of Athens tonight, further hardship lies ahead for the Greek people, the vote will not overnight solve the deep and destructive crises that has its roots as far back as the eighties when successive Greek governments overspent and ultimately cooked the books with the help of esteemed financial experts and managed to blag their way into the Euro family.
It seems now that this family has become somewhat dysfunctional. Greece is by all accounts the black sheep , like an errant teenager who has partied too much, the hangover is debilitating. Greek leaders have seen austerity destroy their economic society while most of the bailout was used to pay off debt interest rather than invest in the countries economic and social infrastucture. It is now up to SYRIZA to navigate a way out of the mess in agreement with the institutions.
The Institutions are part of a fairly strong wall of steel behind which the EU are hiding, refusing to deal with realities and hoping that the traditional right – wing economic model which demolished the world economy recently will somehow come good. It will not. It cannot, because Greece has a debt problem that is simply unsustainable and further Austerity is likely to drive the country over the edge with catastrophic consequences.
Despite this, the situation could be a Win Win for Europe. If Greece seals a better deal – relief on austerity and a re-organisation of their debt responsibilities – it will contribute to establishing a sustainable growth situation. Other countries that are struggling might also benefit by arguing for a similar deal in the context of their own specific circumstances. More importantly the lesson of Greece will at some stage force an acceptance within the broader EU family that the systemic faults in how a stateless currency operates needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Europe is a toddler learning to walk and talk and develop its identity. There will be many stumbles, with the Greece situation been arguably the worst so far. Europe has to listen to the Greek vote and heed the cry. Starving a group of people into submission because they dare vote for a party that has the cheek to challenge the prevailing economic paradigm is pointless. And trying to create the circumstances that will lead to the collapse of a democratic government is just plain dangerous. Worst of all, refusing to accept that the Greek economy has no hope of surviving under the current arrangements is basically reckless.
The Greek people stood up against what has been described as blackmail and economic terrorism. They stood alone and have now forced the entire EU family to think again. Irish people have some idea of what it is like to stand alone against a bully and fight for your life. Today Greece gave us all a valuable lesson on what can be achieved when democracy prevails and an entire society refuses to be trambled under the foot of the worst excesses of neo liberal capitalism. Nobody is quite sure what will happen next and while Greece have not yet won the war, they have certainly won a very important battle.
Robin is from Dublin but now lives in South Wicklow. He has just completed a four year international BA in politics with University College Dublin and University of California Santa Cruz. He recently became a member of South Wicklow Sinn Fein however his view are his own and not necessarily representative of the party.