News Release

Greek Referendum: Triumph of Democracy over Bankers?


Greeks overwhelmingly rejected conditions for bailout by the European “troika” (European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) in a referendum on Sunday. This is widely seen as strengthening the hand of the Greek government in negotiating a more favorable package.

In a move that surprised many, Yanis Varoufakis just resigned as Greek finance minister.

COSTAS PANAYOTAKIS, cpanayotakis at
Recently back from Greece, Panayotakis is professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York and author of Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy. He has been published in numerous journals including Monthly Review and Capitalism Nature Socialism. He appeared on the program “Democracy Now!” this morning.

Panayotakis said today: “The result of the Greek referendum has been a resounding rejection of the devastating austerity policies that European institutions and the IMF have been imposing on Greek people for the last five years. The fact that more than 60 percent of Greeks voted ‘no’ to the European proposals for further austerity is a small miracle given the intense psychological pressure that Europe’s strangulation of the Greek economy has placed on Greek citizens. This result is also a victory for democracy. The European institutions’ choice to take actions that precipitated capital controls and a bank holiday in Greece was an attempt to repeat the scenario of 2011, when aGreek referendum on a previous bailout agreement was aborted as a result of pressure from Chancellor Merkel and then French president Sarkozy. At the time, the democratically elected Prime Minister George Papandreou who called the referendum was toppled and replaced by an unelected banker who enjoyed the trust of European political and business elites.

“This time around not only did Greek citizens get the chance to have a say on their future, but they were also brave enough to resist the campaign of ideological terrorism unleashed on them by the media controlled by Greek oligarchs, as well as by business owners threatening them that they would lose their jobs if ‘no’ prevailed, and by European officials threatening that Greece would be ejected from the eurozone if ‘yes’ did not win. The referendum result may not end austerity in Greece, but it does create a better environment for Greek anti-austerity forces to keep fighting. As for European governments and institutions, they are faced with a choice of either reaching a compromise with the Greek government that takes into account the referendum result or continuing strangulating the Greek economy and increasing the risks of a eurozone rupture.”

JEAN ROSS, via Charles Idelson, cidelson at
Ross is a registered nurse and co-president of National Nurses United. She said today: “The historic referendum in Greece could be a watershed moment in history — an entire nation standing up to defy the bankers, the politicians who serve them, and a disastrous demand of more austerity that has already caused so much pain and suffering. Austerity, as nurses see first hand, compromises the health of people who endure loss of income, housing, and nutritional sustenance. The last thing they need is more of the same. Greece, you have inspired us all.” Idelson is communications director for the group.