Has Tsipras been planning referendum from the beginning or…?

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. How do you read PM Tsipras decision to as he has announced referendum on bailout deal?

2. Is it basically the endgame, is NO the most probable result in your opinion?

Answers:

Roman GerodimosSenior Lecturer in Global Current Affairs, The Media School, Bournemouth University

I believe there are two possible ways to read this decision: it is either the case that he has been planning this from the beginning, as part of a strategic plan to steadily dominate the Greek political system with Greece leaving the Euro, or as him looking for a ‘way out’ while trying to save face. If the troika’s measures were to be accepted then he would be shifting responsibility for them to the people and he could resign leaving someone else to implement them and take the associated political costs. If the troika’s measures were to be rejected then, while this would constitute a short-term political vicotry for him, clearly Greece would enter a period of exteme instability which would probably lead to some form of transitional government. We should note that the referendum is both unconstitutional (as the Greek constitution expressly forbids holding a referendum on fiscal issues) and illegal (as the timeframe is shorter than the expected period so as to have a proper debate).

2. To be honest, I’m not sure that the referendum will, in fact, take place. Immediately after Tsipras made the announcement, Greeks queued at ATMs around the country. The “bank run” that had been unfolding in slow motion over the last few weeks finally broke out and many ATMs are now out of cash. People have also queued in supermarkets and petrol stations. It’s hard to see how the country will function for another week and how the state will be able to logistically organise a referendum within a week with possible capital controls, queues etc. Also, the lenders may decide to withdraw their offer – the offer was about extending a loan programme that expires on Wednesday anyway, so the referendum may end becoming irrelevant by the middle of the week.

If it does happen, which presumably would require the European Central Bank sustaining Greece’s banks for another week, I believe the result will be an emphatic Yes, as most people are correctly interpreting this as a referendum about Greece’s future in the Eurozone.

Pavlos Efthymiou, PhD Candidate in Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge

1. Let me start by saying that few days ago he said that no elections or referendum is required. Therefore: one way to read this unexpected decision is that the government failed in its objectives and therefore this is its way out. Another way to read it is that this is part of a last shot at a better deal. There are many ways to read it. Some read it as the last part of a specific plan. I personally see this as a particularly problematic development: the question is another trick. It is not clear and it only leads to instability and endangers the safety and the interests of the weakest in our society.

2. The question is a trick. The outcome of which is entirely dependent on how the discussion will be framed by the main powers. If everyone gets to understand that a ‘NO’ leads us fast out of the euro, possibly out of Europe and probably into major internal and external security risks a ‘NO’ will not necessarily win. The difficulty will be to organise the ‘YES’ camp because of the tricky question and the simple fact that the ‘NO’ camp that consists of the well-organised and easier to mobilise SYRIZA and Golden Dawn camp plus ANEL and KKE parties. Therefore although the pro-EU / pro-Euro camp is the majority it very much runs the risk of losing to the minority. It is a very sad enigma that I still hope there is a chance to avoid. It is also very divisive, problematic and dangerous. So if there is in fact a referendum in the end, the dilemma is huge but framed the government in a misleading way which conceals the size and criticality of the stakes in question.

Alexander Apostolides, Lecturer of Economics and Economic History, European University of Cyprus

1. It is an act of political cowardice. He knows his plan to change the terms of the extension failed and he wants to pass it to the people at the eleventh hour. This is the case since the referendum comes AFTER the 30th June which was the “hard deadline” of the Brussels group. If he suddenly remembered to democratize the process he should have taken the political cost of capital controls and then give himself the time to negotiate. Now the banks are in real trouble in Tuesday (ELA) has to been given back or no extension given while pressures rise. So for me its cowardly. Too cowardly to put capital controls so that he can talk without bank pressures, too cowardly to come back without a deal, and he want to show it as “the will of the people” rather than a failure.

No one comes out well out of this – not the Troika, not Syriza, not Greece. Their collective failures are now going to be put on the test on Greece, after the Tuesday deadline which will make the question of the referendum null and void.

2. Result of the referendum is irrelevant. The banks can not open on Monday. By tuesday the ECB will have to make a hard decision. The bailout package offered is already too small due to the extra damage to the greek economy. What ever side wins the referendum, the actions will be too little too late.

Nikolaos ZahariadisProfessor, Department of Government, University of Alabama at Birmingham

1. PM Tsipras’ announcement caught many by surprise. Everyone I had spoken to seemed to think he would finally sign the deal. The announcement was a sign of desperation in my mind. He appeared not to be able to address the issue and wanted the people to have a say. The problem is we don’t know what the arguments and questions are. I watched the parliamentary debate yesterday and it appeared no one knew the exact content of the question. They spoke about the “proposals” but there were no written proposals accompanying the documents. So we are left to surmise what they are based on newspaper reports and hearsay. I later heard on tv the government said it had not received the same proposals document the Commission later made public. What can one say? I just don’t think the government has thought it through and they have no plan B, meaning what will they do if it is yes (Tsipras said he will honor the outcome but I am not convinced he will implement it because he openly disagrees). If the outcome is no, then what? Bankruptcy?

2. I think the outcome will be no if the referendum goes through. I am still not convinced it will because the proposal, is off the table, as tv sources have suggested. So what will people vote on? Plus there is no time to debate the pros and cons. People are angry (they have imposed capital controls as you know), so the government is on thin ice. The economy has collapsed, everyone is sitting tight and waiting to see what will happen. Even if the government uses the outcome as leverage, as it says, it will go nowhere in my mind. I cannot imagine any creditor agreeing to anything right now with this government in power. The whole has backfired. The backbone of Tsipras’ support, retirees and public sector workers, cannot access their wages/retirements yet, and they are understandably upset.

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