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A ‘take-it-or-leave it’ vote is a recipe for disaster for Greece

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Aristides N. Hatzis, "A ‘take-it-or-leave it’ vote is a recipe for disaster for Greece" (Financial Times, June 29, 2015)

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A ‘take-it-or-leave it’ vote is a recipe for disaster for Greece

  1. 1. Share   Authoralerts Print Clip Com m ents June 28, 2015 7:26 pm Aristides Hatzis arly Sunday morning the Greek parliament voted to hold a referendum that will be decisive for the country’s future. Supposedly this is going to be a vote on a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposal by Greece’s creditors — the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But in fact this is going to be a referendum about whether Greece remains in the eurozone, the EU or even the west. I cannot see how this plebiscite can even take place. The obstacles seem insurmountable. The logistics are awful. The notoriously inefficient Greek administration will have a hard time organising the referendum in less than a week. Worse, it could cost more than €100m when the public coffers are literally empty. Beyond the cost, though, there is the problem that this poll has no real objective. The bailout proposal was not final and it has already been recalled. Voting on a non-existing proposal is surreal and only serves to highlight that the referendum is really about the standing of Greece in Europe. The Greek government will do its best to avoid the association, a difficult task given the apparent rupture with the rest of Europe. Before Greece votes, the country will have already experienced a hard default on a €1.5bn loan from the IMF and the expiration of the bailout agreement tomorrow. ©AFP A ‘take-it-or-leave it’ vote is a recipe for disaster for Greece - FT.com http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/823557f4-1da2-11e5-ab0f-6bb9974f25d0... 1 of 3 28/6/2015 10:03 μμ
  2. 2. After a spate of bank runs, capital controls have been introduced, banks will be closed indefinitely and cash transfers abroad have been limited — not the appropriate environment for deliberation before a referendum. Greek voters will feel frightened, desperate and angry. This is a recipe for disaster. Whatever the outcome, the result will most likely be deadlock. According to the Greek government, a No vote will pressure the EU, ECB and IMF to compromise. I highly doubt it. Any result will only bind the Greek government. A Yes vote will be a major defeat for Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister. He will have to resign and demand elections or a coalition government. Which leads to the question: What were they thinking? Why did the Greek government choose a path that clearly leads to a quagmire? The simple answer is the fear of political cost. They behaved opportunistically and myopically in order to satisfy their electoral base and protect their favourite vested interests. However it is obvious that this move can have detrimental effects for the very people they try to protect — and it can also lead to the downfall of the Syriza government. Can’t they see it? It is difficult to tell. This is not a typical leftist party. It is a coalition of radicals, Maoists, former Stalinists and populists. Their gut feelings are anti-European and anti-western. They feel more at home with their comrades in Caracas than in Brussels. They are thinking and deciding collectively, with a psychology which is a mix of delusion and fanaticism. Mr Tsipras is himself a product of this environment. He was raised and socialised in a climate of antiquated dogmatism, with no access to the real world. He learnt how to be a party apparatchik, nothing more. He managed bitterly to disillusion the few of us who believed that he was capable of outgrowing his party, maturing enough to accept political cost and behaving rationally. His irrational decision to call for the referendum at the weekend was also the result of the short- sightedness of the EU and the other creditors. Greece’s European partners pushed him over the edge by behaving dismissively and by insisting on a continuation of a failing austerity recipe with unreasonable tax hikes and unfair spending cuts. This led to a knee-jerk reaction by the Greek people. The government is now trying to exploit the A ‘take-it-or-leave it’ vote is a recipe for disaster for Greece - FT.com http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/823557f4-1da2-11e5-ab0f-6bb9974f25d0... 2 of 3 28/6/2015 10:03 μμ
  3. 3. Printed from: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/823557f4-1da2-11e5-ab0f-6bb9974f25d0.html Print a single copy of this article for personal use. Contact us if you wish to print more to distribute to others. © THE FINANCIAL TIMES LTD 2015 FT and ‘Financial Times’ are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd. RELATED TOPICS Greece DebtCrisis,CentralBanks,European banks,European Union,InternationalM onetaryFund Share  Authoralerts Print Clip Com m ents Migrant crisis: dying to reach Europe Last chance for a Greek deal Myanmar grapples with jade troubles underdog culture, the nationalistic sentiment, the ignorance of the average voter. The referendum idea was supported by Syriza as well as its populist ultra-right-wing government partners and the neo-nazis. In a previous opinion piece in the Financial Times I argued that Greece was in danger of becoming like the Weimar Republic because it had so many extremists from left and right inside the parliament. However, instead of a conflict between them, the extremists formed a coalition. This rogue coalition has to fight against pro-Europe citizens, conservatives, liberals and socialists. Greece’s history informs us that nothing good comes out when there is such a great schism in society. The writer is an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens and a co-founder of GreekCrisis.net A ‘take-it-or-leave it’ vote is a recipe for disaster for Greece - FT.com http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/823557f4-1da2-11e5-ab0f-6bb9974f25d0... 3 of 3 28/6/2015 10:03 μμ

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