Greece and the eurocrisis: Of democracy and of a different Europe

Greek crisis

This said, two things I have been reading in the past few days are disturbing:

1- First, the claim that Tsipras’ rhetoric on democracy is misplaced: After all, people say, we all are democracies. Why should Greek democracy count more than the Portuguese, or the Spanish one? There is no reason, of course. The point is that Tsipras did something that is now really revolutionary in Europe, he tried – hold your breath –  to implement the platform on which he was elected.

How many governments in Europe went to power promising an end to austerity, promising a “new deal for Europe”, just to retract a few months/weeks/days later and align themselves with the Berlin view that austerity is the only way? Greek democracy today should count for more than the democracy in the rest of Europe, because it is the only case in which voters are actually listened to by their government. This is why Syriza’s anomaly needed to be crushed, well beyond the actual content of its proposed policies. If European policy makers feel that their democracy should be as important as Greece’s, they could start by trying to do what their voters elected them for. That would certainly not hurt.

2- The second thing that bothers me is the convergence of the establishment and of euro-skeptical movements across Europe. Don’t be fooled by the enthusiastic adherence of many no-euro movements to the Oki campaign. Their siding with Tsipras was instrumental to Grexit, turmoil, and weakening the euro itself. Something orthogonal to what Tsipras has been doing and saying in the past two years. The referendum made it clear that the establishment and the no-euro converge in trying to prove that there is no alternative to austerity in Europe. The former, because if Greece is not normalized, we would enter a new phase in which statements and policies would have to be assessed on the basis of facts (not so favorable to austerity) rather than taken as a matter of faith. Euro skeptics need Tsipras to be crushed because this would definitely prove that the only way to get rid of austerity is to get rid of the euro altogether.

Therefore the referendum, while certainly hazardous and ill-conceived (what did the Greek people vote on, in the end?), had the great merit of exposing the hypocrisy of some commentators. And it also showed that the only hope for a different Europe has to be found in the struggle that an inexperienced prime minister is leading from Athens. Since yesterday [Note from the Editor: this blog post was published on Monday July 6], with the renewed support of his people. Dangerous times ahead, but with a small hope for change.

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