A small light in the gloom


I honestly do not know how we got to this point. I would like to say that it, too, shall pass, but I am not at all certain about when and how. I used to be envious of my veteran colleagues for having experienced history in the making and believed that I was living in duller times. I was obviously wrong. Whatever the developments from now on, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Sunday’s referendum is truly of great historical importance. A “yes” vote will not mean that the road ahead will be strewn with rose petals. The damage that has already been done to the economy, to the banking sector and to Europe’s trust in Greece is almost irreversible. I can only hope that our European partners have the wisdom and bravery to understand that Greece needs to be given some room to breathe and a plan for its rebound. If they start with the haggling and the back-and-forth again, the country will sink fast. Also, everything needs to be done to avoid a haircut on deposits.

The most important question, however, is who will be implementing such a deal if it transpires. It can certainly not be wrapped up with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the event that the “yes” vote prevails. Right now the government is facing trust problem in Europe; on Monday it may also face them in Greece. On the other hand, such a deal could not be drawn without Tsipras’s involvement as there would not be enough time to hold general elections. The only solution, therefore, would be a national unity government that would have the support of ruling SYRIZA, if only a part of it.

But in this climate of polarization and with so many unpredictable politicians playing a key role in developments, this sounds incredibly complicated.

A “no” vote on the other hand will take us back decades. The most likely scenario is a velvet divorce with Europe that will ensure a relatively smooth transition to a new national currency. By the time this is achieved, however, a lot of terrible things are bound to happen.

These are the reasonable scenarios. There are also the unreasonable, crazy ones that can arise in any case when a nation goes bankrupt. Social divisions are deepening by the day and the people still have a lot of unanswered questions. Could a “yes” vote bring a certain amount of national consensus or would the country be constantly challenged by the impassioned “no” bloc and rendered ungovernable?

The one positive thing that has come out of this mess is that Greece’s pro-European forces have started to take a more active stand and people from the worlds of the arts and business have shown that they can also put up a staunch fight. Irrespective of the outcome of the referendum, this mobilization is sure to have a positive effect in the future.