Democracy might have its origins from Greece and Alexis Tsipras have appealed to democracy as a form of ‘blackmail’ to coerce the European Union to further economic aid to the nation. It is ironic to note that Alexis Tsipras actually says that it is the EU that is blackmailing the nation. As many probably know, Greece is due to hold a referendum this coming Sunday on the 5th of July, and Alexis Tsipras and his government is urging the citizens to reject the austerity package so as to strengthen the government’s hand in negotiating.
Is Euro blackmailing Greece or is it the other way around?
A definition of blackmail as a verb is to force or coerce someone to do a particular action. In this case the present Greek government headed by Alexis Tsipras is doing just that. It is not willing to undertake or guarantee any concrete economic reform actions to extract aid payments from the European Union and other creditors. In all negotiations there has to be compromises, and by announcing plans for the referendum in the middle of ongoing negotiations does not show goodwill.
In other words, the Greek government is using Democracy as a tool for blackmail. If one were to read up on the various concepts of government, the basis and ideals for each form is good, it is just how it is used that makes it right or wrong. In this way the Greek government wants to show European Union that the majority of the whole country rejects austerity. Then to be fair, should the rest of the European Union perhaps hold their own referendum whether to accept Greece’s demand for austerity to be lifted?
Furthermore, Greece’s Prime Minister and Finance Minister have both stated their decision to resign should the people of Greece vote to accept the austerity measures. That essentially forces the decision on the people and further leaves the nation in limbo. Without a head of government and the finance minister who is heading the negotiation with regards to financial aid, even if the people accepts austerity.
The Rule of the Minority
Greece’s GDP forms just less than 2% of the whole Eurozone, but the huge economic debacle surrounding the country’s financial crisis have pulled the value of the Euro downwards and there are even talks of the huge costs to the whole Eurozone should Greece exit (‘Grexit’) of the EU. The financial costs could amount to huge write downs that needs to be undertaken by European banks that hold Greek debts in the event of a Grexit while there are larger costs with regards to the hit on reputation and solidarity that the Eurozone offers to its members.
In this case the democratic choice made by Greece has become the main sticking point in the whole Eurozone. Does it make it a case of a minority ruling over the majority?
The Rule of the Ignorant
When I read about the Greece crisis, rarely is there a mention of the consequences of either accepting or rejecting austerity measures. Maybe even the writers are not sure of it themselves, or it is really difficult to say which of the choices (accepting or rejecting austerity) is the less bitter pill to swallow. Sure no one call tell the future, but leaving a major decision to the masses, some of whom have no idea what each of the options might bring in a a direct referendum of yes or no just seems silly to me.
Eventually even with either decision, many Greeks might just be ignorant going into the referendum. That is because with the confusion in the last few days due to capital controls and the oratorical speeches made by Alexis Tsipras with regards to rejecting the austerity, people might just be misled into thinking either way. Does a decision made on the background of irrational fear or emotional rage and anger form a good basis for choosing wisely or rationally? I think not.
Finally it seems the message is clear here, a government cannot rely on democracy as a tool, but it should learn to make steadfast decisions. Leaving decisions to a one vote for everyone system works only if everyone has the same access to information.
If the whole idea was to reject austerity, Alexis Tsipras should just make the decision to leave the Euro, considering the EU cannot accept the continuous pumping of aid without significant economic reforms. He has shown that he wants to maintain Greece’s Euro membership and still receive economic assistance without making changes to a broken system. Basically, you can’t have the cake and eat it too, and membership to an economic partnership is as what Angela Merkel refers as requiring compromises and abiding to rules and regulations with respect to the membership.