Greek referendum: A liberal dose of democracy

Patrick Young
Patrick L Young is CEO of niche crowdfunding platform HanzaTrade and an advisor to fund managers throughout the world. Born in Ireland, he is an active investor in the “New Europe” amongst other emerging markets and is an active Co Founder of grassroots startup group "Mission ToRun." Home Page: Twitter: @FrontierFinance
Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski
Giving the people a vote breaks so many rules - or so it seems smug Western democrats are eager to suggest.

To be fair, Greek PM Tsipras could be criticized for a lack of statesmanship in calling a referendum on a bailout but then again many give him the benefit of the doubt given the size of the stakes. However, putting anything to the popular vote is anathema to the EU. After all, citizens usually have to be prompted to get the ‘right’ answer.

Despite spending years languishing at the bottom of the Ancient Greek class (the other guy was always better); I do recall a few things: the Athenians invented democracy for one. Mr. Tsipras calling a plebiscite is brave. When during bailout talks in 2011 PM Papandreou mooted a referendum, furious EU leaders engineered his downfall.

Intriguingly, Chancellor Merkel and President Obama issued a statement where they "agreed that it was critically important to make every effort to return to a path that will allow Greece to resume reforms and growth within the Eurozone."

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsiprasis (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)

Given the Troika bailouts have coincided with a 21 percent GDP decline prior to a brief 1 percent micro-rebound, clearly neither leader is mathematically gifted. Moreover, demonstrating that clearly the surgeons removed her sense of irony when going for her tonsils, Mrs. Merkel has been in sparkling form. A particular gem: “If the ability to find a compromise is lost, Europe is lost.” This from the woman who ensured her banks were relieved at the expense of the citizens in Ireland and Greece, to name but two bailouts during her otherwise unproductive governmental tenure.

Meanwhile Germany’s Finance Minister displayed five star petulance: “The Greek government’s behavior has been beyond belief.” This flabbergasted response to Greece exercising its sovereignty appears curiously at odds with the self-same Wolfgang Schauble’s statement on May 11th: “If the Greek government thinks it should hold a referendum, it should hold a referendum. Maybe it would even be the right measure to let the Greek people decide whether they’re ready to accept what needs to be done.”

In Brussels, the fabulously pompously titled European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents - consisting of nobody any voting citizen can probably name (but to be fair at least a few have been elected) “called for all parties to the talks on Greece to return to the negotiating table before the end of Tuesday.” This fantasy was overseen by President Juncker who has often appeared somewhat emotional of late, leading his flock of “Eurosheep,” bleating mantras of a strong Europe while the EU tears itself apart through indolence and semi-continuous.

At his emotive zenith, Mr. Juncker opined:

“This is a highly important moment for the Greek people and for the people of Europe...time for Greeks to speak up and to shape their own destiny for this generation and the generations to come...time for Greece's political leaders to shoulder their responsibility...I will never let the Greek people down.”

Space is short, so permit me to summarize this in Mr. Juncker’s own words: "When the going gets tough, you have to lie."

I have no time for the simply ridiculously illiterate ‘economic’ policies of Mr. Tsipras. Then again, fair enough, is his fast road to ruin better than the slow road to oblivion preferred by the EU’s Presidential pygmies and Prime Ministers? Timing is the only aspect separating each from disaster.

Reuters / Alkis Konstantinidis

However, the simple truth is that previous bailouts delivered a dead dog and recent talks have revolved around how many fleas creditors can inject into the rotting carcass. Greece should never have accepted an impossible bailout to paper over the design flaws of the euro while backstage Mrs. Merkel laundered some cash to support her wayward domestic banks.

Brussels is now in max-bullying mode, demanding Greece accept debt subjugation. Hectoring ‘Eurovoices’ seek to bludgeon through extended debt subjugation for a bankrupt nation. Thus democracy is being routinely undermined not merely in the EU but the cradle of democracy itself.

My final sentence is such an outlier that I could never foresee it despite long believing ‘Grexit’ was inevitable. When French President Hollande remarked: "It is democracy, it is the right of the Greek people to decide what they want for their future,” I concurred. Thus I find myself in agreement with not only the custard pie of the Elysee but even, economist & columnist Paul Krugman, when he says the only way is Grexit.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.