Mar 10 2015

The Ballot Revolution

Greece threatens new elections if eurozone rejects planned reforms

by Helena Smith, The Guardian

Sunday 8 March 2015 14.02 EDT

Greece’s anti-austerity government has raised the spectre of further political strife in the crisis-plagued country by saying it will consider calling a referendum, or fresh elections, if its eurozone partners reject proposed reforms from Athens.

Racheting up the pressure ahead of a crucial meeting of his eurozone counterparts on Monday, the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, said the leftist-led government would hold a plebiscite on fiscal policy if faced with deadlock.

“We are not attached to our posts. If needed, if we encounter implacability, we will resort to the Greek people either through elections or a referendum,” he told Italy’s Il Corriere della Sera in an interview on Sunday.

Varoufakis was the second high-ranking official in as many days to suggest the possibility of a referendum being held. On Saturday, Panos Kammenos, who heads the government’s junior partner in office, the small, rightwing Independent Greeks party, said such a ballot could be a “possible response” to protracted disagreement with creditor bodies propping up Greece’s debt-stricken economy.

Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, creditors have signaled that they want Athens to specify reforms with “harder facts and figures” including showing a renewed commitment to the country’s stalled privatisation process. Militants on the far-left of Syriza have made such “asset stripping” a “red line” that they will not cross.

“The country is at war with lenders,” warned the interior minister, Nikos Voutsis, giving voice to the increasingly combative sentiments now colouring relations with creditors. “Every month the leash is getting tighter for us. But we are not going to proceed in this war like happy scouts ready to follow bailout policies.”

With the rhetoric at such levels, Athens is treading a very fine line.

“If the ECB insists on this decision, which in our opinion is not the right one, then it will be taking on a major responsibility,” Tsipras told Der Spiegel before appealing to Draghi by phone on Saturday to change course.

With the current impasse threatening to lead Greece into defaulting on its payments and the spectre of a referendum renewing fears of further turmoil for an economy already blighted by the twin ills of bankruptcy and political uncertainty, Varoufakis’ remarks were quickly described as “irresponsible” by the political opposition.

Former prime minister Antonis Samaras, who now heads the main opposition centre-right New Democracy party, said a plebiscite would be “a very bad development”.

Why yes it will, for Antonis Samaras and his New Democracy party who are highly likely to get their butts kicked.

You may ask, “So what good does a vote do?”  It shows that Tsipras and SYRIZA have the support of the Greek people.

Because the alternative for Draghi, Schaeuble, and Lagarde is that Greece simply repudiates its debt entirely, slaps on capital controls, and the German Banks (who are the ones actually being “bailed out”) end up without even paper suitable for outhouse use as those ephemeral electrons all change to zero.

They can kill you, but they can never force you to do anything.  You’d think the Germans would have learned that.

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