The Greek Referendum: Method in the Madness

Everyone seems to be weighing in on the resounding NO vote delivered by Greek voters to the Eurocrats in Brussels and Frankfurt on Sunday. Much speculation is being made regarding the potential outcomes of Tsipras’s gamble (as well as the significance of Varoufakis’ surprise resignation). What some observers may not have noticed is that not only did Tsipras out-manoeuvre Angela Merkel, Wolfgang Schauble and their social democratic pit-bulls, Sigmar Gabriel and Jeroen Djisselbloem (main players in what Tariq Ali calls Europe’s ‘radical centre’); he also outmanoeuvred his own domestic opposition who were impatient to plot Syriza’s downfall in what was looking more and more like a financial coup.

On 25 June, former Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing New Democracy Party, Antonis Samaris, was in Brussels meeting with high ranking officials from the European Peoples’ Party (the centre-right political configuration in Europe) to attempt to install himself as the head of a ‘pro-Europe’ – that is, pro-austerity – ‘technocratic’ government, similar to the ‘caretaker’ government of Lucas Papademos in the autumn of 2012 – a government under which some of the more draconian austerity measures were passed. Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis was also in attendance, but formally distanced himself from Samaris’ attempted coup. This was all designed, of course, to attempt to capitalize on the growing discontent within Syriza by members of its large Left Bloc, many of who have been calling for exit from the Eurozone.

On Saturday, 27 June, Tsipras announced the referendum. One of the first things he has done in the aftermath of the resounding rejection of the Troika’s bail-out plan by Greek voters, is to meet with members of the opposition parties in order to establish a united front against the Troika. Given the margin of victory, and the recent revelation that the IMF knew all along that, after five years of Troika ‘supervision’ Greece’s debt is now unsustainable (and that influential Europeans attempted to sweep this realization under the carpet), all parties have now fallen in line behind Syriza’s bargaining strategy of obtaining debt relief. Noticeably absent, of course, is Samaris, whose resignation was overshadowed by that of Varoufakis. So Tsipras has battened down the hatches on the home-front. Thus far, well played. What happens now remains to be seen.

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