Why Greek citizens voted ‘NO’

ilfoglioThe result of the referendum of the 5th of July in Greece was clear. 61.3 percent of Greek citizens voted ‘No’ and 38.7 percent ‘Yes’. Although the majority of Greeks made their decision in an atmosphere of political fanaticism and being emotionally affected by the drama of the crisis, this result reveals some truths about the political situation in the country.

First, the ‘No’ victory constitutes a personal success of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. His popularity is much higher than that of other political leaders who fail to persuade public opinion on their cause. Tsipras, by contrast, represents a new tendency in politics which offers hope – even if this hope is an illusion.

Second, the ‘No’ victory demonstrates the fatigue of many Greek citizens in expecting tangible results from the bailout policies which started to be implemented in May 2010. They are desperately looking for an alternative and want an end to austerity policies. Some of them also believe that Tsipras will be now more powerful to negotiate a better deal.

Third, the ‘No’ victory highlights the lack of influence of Greek mainstream media. Their coverage of the pre-referendum period was biased as they strongly campaigned for a ‘Yes’ vote. But many Greek citizens do not any longer trust this coverage and prefer to be informed by online media resources which offer anti-bailout content.

Fourth, the ‘No’ victory confirms that populism is on the rise in times of crisis. Capable demagogues can manipulate the masses constructing foreign enemies, creating national slogans and pretend to protect the interest of the country while they are seriously damaging it at the economic and foreign policy level.

For all these reasons, Greek citizens voted ‘No’ in the referendum. Their initial euphoria in the night of Sunday did not solve the problem of course. Banks remain closed, the credibility in the banking sector is collapsed, recession is deepening and cash is running out. Alexis Tsipras is risking the future of Greece in the euro and needs to work hard in order to regain the confidence of his European partners.

The decision of Greek citizens in the referendum is highly respectable. But their impact cannot be now assessed. The future will be very hard for Greece even if the government comes to an agreement with its creditors. Day-per-day the conditions of the Greek economy deteriorate making the task for a recovery almost impossible.

George N. Tzogopoulos