Referendum in Greece Rejects IMF-Driven Austerity Demands

By their 61 percent “No” vote, the voters of Greece on July 5 rejected demands by the U.S.-led International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank, and the leading banks and politicians of the European Union (EU) that Greeks suffer for the financial misdeeds of others.

What was demanded of Greece, and rejected by Greeks, is called “austerity.” Its meaning is that Greek retirees and the public should continue to pay for the banks’ misdeeds, together with Greek oligarchs, that have led to a long-lasting collapse of the whole Greek capitalist economy. In effect banks and other wealthy profit-making institutions in Europe are demanding that Greek workers continue to suffer without any end in sight. Greeks have said “No” to this in a resounding way.

The banks and the Germany and French politicians placed heavy pressure on voters in part to seek regime changing in Greece. The governing party, SYRIZA, is a left coalition that has rejected the austerity policies of the IMF and the EU. Austerity in Greece has meant drastic reductions in social services, wages, and employment opportunities. The immediate crisis is loans taken by Greece that are unpayable because austerity has resulted in economic collapse. SYRIZA came to power because the social-democratic PASOK party, in power earlier, had supported austerity policies.

The French prime minister belongs to the Socialist Party of France, and its German equivalent, the Social Democratic Party, is fully in support of the austerity demand that was placed against Greece. In effect, parties that collaborate with solving the problems of capitalism on the backs of workers are claiming to stand for socialism too and are dragging the name of socialism in the dirt.

The SYRIZA government responded to the EU and IMF’s negotiating ultimatum last week by calling for a referendum in Greece on the European leaders’ “offer”. The results could shake Europe by putting in question Greece’s participation in the European currency, the euro. In addition, a possible default on loans by Greece could raise the possibility of defaults by other countries that have economic troubles.

David Keil

is a member of the Editorial Board of "The Socialist" and of the Boston Area local of the Socialist Party.

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