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TEBR2015JulAug-editors

The Illusion of Choice

July 1, 2015 • Commentary

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From the Editors

As Greece and the rest of the Eurozone finally reached an agreement last week for a third Greek bailout package, one cannot but wonder at the cost for the Greek people and to Tsipras’ credibility
of staying in the Eurozone. Do the Greek people believe that they are still being led by Tsipras and his leftist party or is Tsipras and his party now merely a caretaker government? And does the true sit of the Greek government reside firmly in Europe, somewhere between Germany and Finland?

When Nobel laureate Professor Paul Krugman described the Greek Euro bailout package as a coup d’etat, he was not far from the truth and neither was he alone. The twitter hashtag #ThisIsACoup which originated in Barcelona and which according to its organisers “expressed a common sense of impotence of citizens in the face of globalised financial powers” has been trending since 12 July, in response to concerns that the list of Eurogroup demands may have more to do with politics (overthrow Tsipras) than to do with economics. On 5 July, after the Greek people voted ‘No’ to the 25 June 2015 bailout package, Greece and Tsipras were confident that a democratic decision would hold sway in Europe. Greece put forward its own proposal on 8 July which in itself represented a massive about turn for the anti-austerity Tsipras and his party. The new proposal now made concessions on pension cuts, tax increases and other austerity measures he was voted in to reject. However, under threat of Eurozone exit and collapse of its banking system, the Greek government caved in and conceded to even more austerity measures and economic reforms (more than the package they had rejected in their referendum) which include pension reforms, liberalising its economy, privatisation of its energy network, and a sell of state assets to refinance its banks.

The Greek Prime Minister has been described in many quarters as ‘useless’, ‘fantasist’, ‘incompetent’ and even ‘reckless’. The Economist called for an end to his premiership ‘right now Greeks need a new prime minister’. But there is really no need to get rid of Tsipras, as it seems he is now reduced to implementing what Greek lenders and the Eurozone want. The about turn forced on Greece merely goes to show that until Greece pays its debts, or exits the Eurozone, all subsequent prime ministers, of whatever hue, will be mere caretakers to the demands of Europe and not to the Greek voters.

It therefore seems that, at least for now and for the foreseeable future, the Greek people have chosen to follow Europe and abandon their Greek soul.

“Love danger. What is more difficult?
This is what I want! Which path will you follow?
The roughest uphill.
This one I follow myself. Follow me . . . ”
Nikos Kazantzakis

Long live democracy!

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