[Marxism] Greeks Appear to Lean Toward Rejection of Bailout Deal

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jul 5 12:27:21 MDT 2015


NY Times, July 5 2015
Greeks Appear to Lean Toward Rejection of Bailout Deal
By SUZANNE DALEY

ATHENS — Greek voters appeared to be leaning toward rejecting a bailout 
deal offered by the country’s creditors two weeks ago, a decision that 
could redefine the country’s place in Europe and shake the Continent’s 
financial stability.

While official results were not expected for many hours, early returns, 
buttressed by telephone polls and the remarks of opposition politicians, 
suggested that the no vote was likely to prevail. With 20 percent of the 
vote counted, about 60 percent had voted no, according to the Interior 
Ministry, which also said it expected that margin to hold up.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a prominent member of the center-right New 
Democracy party and a former member of Parliament, said, “It is a clear 
no.” Another member of the party, Makis Voridis, said, “I wish the prime 
minister good luck with the negotiations for the well-being of all of us.”

A no vote would be a triumph for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had 
campaigned for that as a way to give him more bargaining power in 
dealing with creditors who wish to impose harsh terms on this already 
battered country. But it also raised the possibility that the creditors 
would walk away, leaving Greece facing default, financial collapse and 
expulsion from the eurozone — and even, in the worst case, from the 
European Union.

Even before the polls closed, the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel of 
Germany released a statement saying she would meet with the French 
president, François Hollande, in Paris on Monday for a “joint assessment 
of the situation after the Greek referendum.”

The poll comes after a week in which voters were barraged with ads that 
warned that if they did not vote yes, they would soon be without 
medicine and gasoline.

With Greek banks closed, the nightly news was filled with images of 
retirees lining up to get only a fraction of their monthly pensions.

Yet it was hard for many Greeks to know exactly what they were voting 
on. The ballot asks them only to say yes or no to the terms of a deal 
with Greece’s creditors, which is no longer even on the table.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has told them that rejecting the deal will 
give him more power to negotiate and urged them to do so. But European 
and opposition leaders have tried to frame the vote as a yes or no to 
staying in the eurozone and avoiding economic collapse.

Mr. Tsipras voted late Sunday morning in his working-class neighborhood 
in Athens. Afterward, he said the vote was a “celebration of democracy.”

“Not only will we remain in Europe,” he said, “but we will live with 
dignity to prosper, to work as equals among equals.”

On a sunny day, voters trickled into polling stations across Greece, 
often passing tourists in shorts and floppy hats.

They voted in small booths covered with dark blue cloths and marked 
paper ballots with a cross. Stacks of blank white ballots were available 
for those who wished to abstain.

For some voters, the week of hardship — they could withdraw only 60 
euros, or about $67, a day from A.T.M.s, and already some pharmacists 
were refusing to fill prescriptions — had only strengthened their sense 
that Greece needed to stand up for itself.

After five years in which unemployment soared beyond 20 percent and the 
country’s economy contracted by 25 percent, many said that a no vote was 
at least a vote for hope, the possibility of a new deal, rather than 
following the mandates of creditors who had failed to set Greece on a 
course to recovery.

For others, the hardship only proved that Greece, like it or not, was in 
the hands of its creditors and could do little but take whatever terms 
were being offered — the alternative of default, financial collapse and 
withdrawal from the euro being unthinkable. In many cases, they blamed 
Mr. Tsipras’s young government for having returned the country to 
recession when it had shown small signs of recovery just before the 
January elections.

At a polling place near the archaeological museum in Athens turnout was 
low, poll workers said. And people coming out of the voting booths 
seemed split.

“I voted with my heart and also my mind,” said Marie Triadafillou, who 
works in transportation logistics and voted yes. “I believe when you are 
in a union you cannot leave. We say in our country if the sheep leaves 
the flock it cannot live.”

Yet others felt that the referendum was not about staying in the 
eurozone but simply part of the long negotiations between Greece and its 
creditors, which broke off more than a week ago when a frustrated Mr. 
Tsipras left Brussels and called for the referendum.

Since then, European officials have refused to negotiate further and to 
extend a deadline for the last bailout program, triggering a decision by 
the European Central Bank to cap its emergency support to Greek banks. 
This forced the government to close the banks for fear of extended bank 
runs.

In Greece, the campaigning for the referendum was supposed to stop on 
Friday, by law. But European leaders seemed to continue their efforts 
over the weekend.

Martin Schulz, the head of the European Parliament, who had offered at 
one point to come to Greece to campaign for a yes vote, said on Sunday 
that Greece would need to prepare to operate without the euro and with a 
parallel currency if there was a no vote on Sunday.

While Greece would remain in the euro, it “will have to introduce 
another currency after the referendum because the euro is not available 
as a means of payment,” he said in an interview broadcast Sunday on 
Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. He added that he hoped the risk of such 
a change would induce Greeks to vote yes.

But some European officials seemed eager to calm the waters. The French 
economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, on Sunday called on Greece’s 
creditors to resume discussions with Athens immediately after the 
referendum, no matter the outcome, and warned against punishing Greece 
in the event of a no vote.

“Even if the no vote prevails, it’s our responsibility not to re-enact a 
Treaty of Versailles in the eurozone,” he said at an economics 
conference in Aix-en-Provence, France, referring to the peace treaty at 
the end of World War I that forced harsh reparation terms on a defeated 
Germany.

He called on the Greek people to take responsibility and realize that 
“this is not just a vote about Greece, but about the whole eurozone. We 
need to maintain solidarity.”

At a polling station in a middle-class Athens neighborhood, Baizar 
Tazerian, 76, said she was angered by what she believed had been 
European interference in the ballot and had just voted to reject the 
deal in the referendum.

“No, means that we don’t have to say yes to whatever they are saying,” 
Ms. Tazerian said.

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