Saturday, June 27, 2015

Costas Douzinas — Referendum and democracy: putting the demos on stage

It is against this background that the Greeks elected in January 2015 the Syriza government committed to reverse these policies. A period of negotiations followed. But these were not proper negotiations. The huge gap between the two parties in power resources and ideology made the talks brutally asymmetrical. I have called these ‘negotiations’ a European coup, an attempt at ‘regime change’ using banks and not tanks. The economic stakes for the lenders are relatively small - the Greek economy is only 2% of European GDP - and does not justify the risk of a breakdown in relations. The precautionary principle of risk theory, inscribed in the European DNA, demands that the unpredictable effects of Grexit on the European and world economy should be avoided. If the collapse of Lehman Brothers created such a huge crisis, even the consideration of Grexit is more dangerous

The perceived threat of a Syriza success and of a haircut of the Greek debt, repeatedly declared unviable by the IMF, is political not economic. The European elites fear a contagion throughout Southern Europe of the anti-austerity stance of the Greek people and government. The result in the Spanish local elections, the Scottish anti-austerity vote and the Sinn Féin opinion poll results indicate that the people hit by austerity have started stirring. The Syriza government is leading the attack on the ‘there is no alternative’ neoliberal mantra. Even a limited success would show that the only fight that cannot be won is a fight not joined.

The fear of political contagion is the only credible interpretation of the actions of Europeans and the IMF. The aim is clear. Either overthrow the government, if it does not accept the onerous conditions imposed on it, or humiliate it so much as to make it impossible to keep party and government together. There are many signs of this attempted ‘regime change’. Every time the Greek government presented to the European leaders a political proposal solving the long-term problem of debt sustainability, it was asked to go to the technocrats and cost it. When the Greeks returned with a detailed costing, the lenders would challenge the political framework behind it....
Open Democracy
Referendum and democracy: putting the demos on stage
Costas Douzinas | Professor of Law and Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London
ht Clonal

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