National Sections of the L5I:

What does the Greek referendum show?

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Chaos reigned in Athens as Prime Minister George Papandreou called a referendum to agree the latest round of austerity measure and EU bail outs, only to call it off days later.

Papandreou’s toying with the referendum was intended to force the parliamentary opposition into a “consensus”, as he expressed it, so that everyone could take responsibility for the attacks in a joint government. Of course, it was a desperate and also cynical move – since he had no intention of letting let the people decide. People have already expressed their opinion on the cuts by a series of generals strike and millions out on the streets in Athens and hundreds of thousands more in other towns.

But it also demonstrated the democratic “deficit” of the whole process. The politicians were furious when they heard Papandreou announce the referendum. As far as they are concerned 'ordinary' people cannot be allowed any participation in this process, since the power of the banks and the corporations must not be challenged as the cuts and reforms are pushed through.

When Papandreou announced his referendum plan, there was an opportunity to demand an immediate halt to all cuts whilst the referendum was being held. They could have demanded that the question needed to be clear – for or against the cuts – and not be conflated with other questions (like for or against the Euro). And they could have demanded that the movement controls the referendum and that all the public an private media be made accessible to it and controlled by it in the campaign.

Now, the Greek left and workers movement can say: Since Papandreou has broken his announcement of a referendum, this is further proof that the Greek government and parliament is not willing to allow the population to have a say in the countries fate. In order to stop the implementation of the dictate of the European banks and the IMF, the working class, the youth, the occupiers have to get on the offensive to bring down the entire cuts programme and the government – they need to rally for an all out general strike to stop the attacks and bring down the government.