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Greece: Astonishing and resounding 'Oxi' (No) to EU austerity

Democracy Now! on July 6, 2015, reports on the Greek rejection of austerity.

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Colin Fox

July 5, 2015 -- Colin Fox, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- So much for it being a close vote! The Greek people today delivered a resounding blow to the European Central Bank's plan to implement further hardship and austerity on the Greek people.

More than 61.3% of Greeks voted "No" (38.69% voted Yes). This represents a huge success for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and an extraordinary vindication of the SYRIZA government and its record since January 25th. Despite falling living standards and increased hardship, epitomised by the enforced "bank holiday" this week which restricted customers to €60 per day, the Greek people have again resoundingly backed their radical left-wing government.

What is perhaps most remarkable about today's result is that this vote of confidence comes despite the government's inability to deliver on its seven manifesto promises [it's Thessaloniki Declaration].

Nevertheless their trenchant refusal to inflict further austerity on Greek voters has been very important and popular. They have confronted the Troika, looked them in the eye and told them straight that they will not implement their austerity program. All previous Greek governments have humiliated the Greek people with their acquiescence to the money men and their cuts. SYRIZA are profoundly different in this regard. That is why they won today. And one key reason why the No side won so handsomely is that so many young Greeks have unusually turned out to vote.

And despite the combined efforts of the international money men and the threats of all EU governments in attempting to undermine the Greek economy SYRIZA have strengthened their political mandate. Alexis Tsipras promised to resign if the Yes side won. SYRIZA made it clear they would not inflict further humiliation on the Greek people. They would have stood down and asked the Greek president to pull together a new administration.

Today's referendum result is therefore an astonishing victory for SYRIZA and for the Greek people as the Troika will be forced to make considerable concessions. It is a defeat for the right in Greece, the Troika and for neoliberal politicians worldwide including Britain.

Of course Greece is not out of the financial woods yet, not by a long way. SYRIZA will go back to Brussels in the morning and renegotiate the deal they rejected last week. It was significant this week that the IMF concluded that Greek debts will simply have to be written off and that Greece will have to be given the further bank bail-outs Syriza has demanded.

I expect the deal rejected by SYRIZA last weekend will now be renegotiated to allow both sides to step back from the prospect of a "Grexit" they both wish to avoid. And I expect the ECB to restore further "emergency funding" to allow Greek banks to reopen on Tuesday. Above all however this defeat for neoliberalism strengthens SYRIZA's hand and will be cheered by working-class people worldwide for that.

[Colin Fox is co-spokesperson of the Scottish Socialist Party.]


Greece vote marks historic blow against austerity


July 5, 2015 -- Irish Republican News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The results of today’s referendum in Greece, rejecting a proposed austerity deal by a margin of more than three-to-two, marks a potential turning point in the history of the European Union.

With 91% of the vote counted, the people of Greece have rejected harsh financial measures imposed by the EU and the European Central Bank for the recovery of international debts, by 61% to 39%.

The result could also open the way for the Dublin government to renegotiate the debt burden imposed on the state following the 2008 financial collapse, estimated at about a 100 billion euros.

It is a clear triumph for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had all but gambled the future of his government on the vote.

His high-stakes negotiations with lenders from the eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund resulted in him calling the referendum, giving the Greek people a chance to directly challenge austerity for the first time. He had campaigned for a "No" vote on the basis that it would strengthen his hand to negotiate a better deal with creditors.

His referendum announcement drew a savagely hostile reaction from the group of Eurozone finance ministers, including 26 County finance minister Michael Noonan. They ordered the withdrawal of the cash liquidity necessary to support the Greek banking system, forcing its government to implement capital controls, including the closure of banks and restrictions on the use of public ATMs.

The mainstream media in Greece also campaigned strongly in support of the austerity package and sought to inflame fears among the public with horror predictions of food and medicines becoming scarce in the wake of a ‘No’ result.

According to data released as counting took place this evening, its clear those reports had an effect: young Greeks voted ‘No’ by more than a 65% margin, while in the over 55 age group there was a clear ‘Yes’ vote.

An end to hypocrisy

It was mostly young people who began filling up Syntagma Square in central Athens on Sunday evening as the results began to flow.

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis hailed the results from the country’s referendum on a bailout deal with international creditors, and said the vote had ended “five years of hypocrisy”.

Speaking to reporters, he said Greece had said "Yes" to a better vision of the eurozone.

SYRIZA party colleague Dimitris Papadimoulis said that Greek people had proved they want to remain in Europe on the basis of equality “and not as a debt colony”.

Minister of state Nikos Papas said it would be wrong to link a "No" result to an exit from the eurozone. But there are concerns that Euro leaders will follow through on blackmail threats made against Greece in the days before the vote.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz told German public radio today that the Greek people would be expelled from the eurozone, even though such a move would be illegal under European law as it stands.

“If after the referendum, the majority is a ‘no,’ they will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment”, he declared.


Responding to the referendum result, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams said the people of Greece had made a historic decision against austerity and an unsustainable bailout package.

“This democratic decision must be respected by all EU leaders”, he said. “I wish to commend the people of Greece for this significant exercise in democracy on behalf of Greece and the rest of the EU. I also want to commend Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his government for the courageous leadership they have shown. The big question facing all citizens of the European Union today, including Irish citizens is whether people have the right to assert democratic control over decisions which affect their lives. That is at the heart of the crisis in Greece. It is also a huge issue in Ireland.”

Sinn Fein MEP and member of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Matt Carthy, said that the “irrefutable” decision of the Greek people must be respected and acted upon.

“The bravery of the Greek people must now be followed by respect and action on the part of EU institutions and governments,” he said. “The comments from EU leaders throughout the past week have been unhelpful and the position of the Irish government has been shameful. Now is the time for Europe to redeem itself. It is clear that Greek debt relief is absolutely necessary and that the country needs measures that will facilitate growth rather than imprison the Greek people with further economic turmoil.”


GUE/NGL: A victory for European democracy!

By Gabi Zimmer, European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) president

July 5, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I have a huge respect for the courage of the Greek people who have voted “NO” in the referendum today, despite an unprecedented campaign of fear by the EU’s ruling elites, despite the threat of being thrown out of the Eurozone and despite the continuing uncertainty. The cradle of democracy has shown the rest of the EU that democratic will is far stronger than the scaremongering and threats of the ruling elites. The people of Greece now have the dignity they fought for in this game that is totally unworthy of the EU institutions.

The NO in the referendum means the Greeks are saying YES to a socially just distribution of the burdens for the sustainable reforms necessary in their country to fight corruption and nepotism. They are saying YES to sustainable reconstruction and growth of their economic structures and to reduce military spending. Above all, they are saying YES to mandatory negotiations on debt restructuring, including a haircut. They are saying YES to European integration and YES to European democracy.

You, the Greek people, have rebuffed [Germany's finance minister Wolfgang] Schäuble and all those who want to split the Eurozone and the EU. You have not been intimidated and have braved the bullying. Thank you to all those people who believe in European democracy and a social Europe. The Greeks have strengthened the position of their government for new negotiations with the creditors. It is time that [Germany's Chanceller Angela] Merkel and [France's President Francois] Hollande assume their responsibilities and give primacy to politics and democracy over the rule of neoliberal financial market supporters.

Our solidarity is now stronger than ever with the people of Greece, of southern Europe and of all those EU regions which have had to pay the price for those gambling and speculating on the banks and the financial markets.


Party of the European Left congratulates the Greek people for its forceful defense of democracy

Brussels, July 6, 2015 -- The Party of the European Left (EL) congratulates the Greek people for its clear and emphatic expression in favour of democracy and against austerity and the massacre that the Troika has imposed them.

The attacks of the system’s mass media, relentless these last days into a campaign of fear, and the catastrophic messages of Merkel, Junker, Draghi and other spokespeople of the neoliberalism have been useless.

The people have spoken and with a very qualified majority, have said that they want other politics different from that made before the arrival of the left government, that drove the country to the humanitarian disaster that Greek people are suffering today.

The EL has joined the voices of social movements, trade unions and parties that have been supporting Syriza in this hard combat and with them we will continue fighting in the streets and in the institutions for another social, egalitarian, united and just Europe.

It is fundamental to be alert these next days since a battle has been gained but the enemy is very powerful and is going to try for all the means to continue with its austeruty politics.

We must keep on occupying the streets in support to the Greek people and to all the European peoples, as well as the whole world in its struggle for recovering their rights continuing with the European mobilisations.


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