Every single reasonable person in this country spent this period seven years ago in a state of shock. The reason was not only the existential crisis of the referendum called by the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government that would effectively determine whether the country would remain in the eurozone.
Nor was it the hints of such an undemocratic quality dropped by then prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ government partner, defense minister Panos Kammenos, when he said, on July 2, 2015, that the “armed forces safeguard stability domestically when a country is going through a difficult time.” It was first and foremost the amateur and flippant manner in which the referendum was called and carried out that caused such unbelievable shock.
In a country run down and stunned by the economic crisis, confused to the extent of believing that the bailout memorandums caused the crisis rather than the other way around, the prime minister chose to announce – at an hour usually reserved for ghosts – that the people would have to come forward in just a few days to make a choice that would determine the future of the country and of generations to come. SYRIZA’s justification is that the question was not about whether Greece should remain in the euro, but whether the Greek people accept the deal. And it continues to hold to this argument even today.
The bailout deal had been withdrawn, but let’s not split hairs. What matters is that the justification is all the proof we need of how lightly the leftist-led government went into the referendum. Had they failed to see that a referendum of this nature was by default about whether Greece would continue being a member of the common currency area? Both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said as much, after all, to Prime Minister George Papandreou when he said that he would hold a referendum over the first memorandum in 2011. And has SYRIZA still failed to see the truth?
We were given just one week to read and ponder hundreds of pages of dense economic text, whereas SYRIZA notoriously complains that its MPs need more than a week to read through fast-tracked legislation
So, the Greek people had to decide whether they agreed with the “Reforms for the completion of the current program and beyond” and the “Preliminary debt sustainability analysis.” This is literally how the referendum was worded. And we were given just one week to read and ponder hundreds of pages of dense economic text, whereas SYRIZA notoriously complains that its MPs need more than a week to read through fast-tracked legislation on, say, fishing.
We won’t even go into the referendum’s highly undemocratic shenanigans, like the fact that the box for NO was above the box of YES in what may have been the first time in the history of referendums. Even the Council of Europe said that the procedure fell short of standards and did not meet its recommendations.
And it is this very unbearable lightness that explains why the “traditional political forces” did not put the country in a position of needing its first bailout for 40 years when it took SYRIZA just six months to bring the country its third memorandum.