It is often said that leaders are elected because they can see beyond people’s needs. They can grasp opportunities the people haven’t identified yet and lead their nations to a successful path. The Greek government, through its recent actions, has proved it does not serve as an example of this case. It is in fact driven by a left old-fashion rhetoric which has proven in the past it only leads to disorder, suppression of liberties, continued introversion and misery. Past generations have fought for Greece to be an integral part of the European Union. No one is saying this partnership has always been rewarding but the net effect was unambiguously positive. Representing a young generation of Greeks who were born in the European era, we have been taking some privileges for granted, such as free mobility, peace and democracy. Now we are called to defend these values, liberties and opportunities we have been enjoying as members of the European family, as the future lying ahead of us remains uncertain.
The Syriza-led Greek government won the majority of the Greek voters in the January national elections, campaigning against austerity and promising to renegotiate the Greek debt within the European framework. This is the mandate they were voted for! Now they turn back to the Greek people, asking them to reject a proposal of the international institutions, to give them leverage to renegotiate. But they were given this mandate in January and there is not even a proposal on the table at present. So what are we really voting for and what is the real motive behind this call for a referendum, the first one in Modern Greek history?
In the past we have seen leaders trying to mislead the electorate during election campaigns to obtain their vote by promising what they knew in advanced could not be done. But we have never seen before, in the Modern Greek history, a government to deliberately trying jeopardizing the European future of Greece, leading our country possibly outside the Euro area.
In order for a referendum to be meaningful three parameters should be met: to ask a clear question, to outline the consequences of each choice and give reasonable time for the citizens to decide. This referendum lacks all of these three parameters. Firstly, one week (i.e. 168 hours) undoubtedly does not constitute a reasonable timeframe for citizens to decide free from any kind of pressure. Secondly the question is not clear. Even worse, the question is designed to manipulate and grab an answer. If one asks whether you want tough austerity, of course the answer is no. This is why the legislature prohibits for a referendum to be conducted on financial matters and that’s why we have democratically elected governments.
The only question of national importance, worthy of a referendum is YES or NO to the Euro area, i.e. Euro or Drachma. In essence, YES or NO to Europe! That is the reality. But people responded to this question in January. People said YES to Euro and no to austerity and the government was elected with this mandate. In polls, all these years of financial crisis, citizens show an overwhelming preference to the Euro. Those who want to break bonds with Europe have always been a small minority, but in democracy majority decides.
Ask the right question, Mr. Prime Minister to get the right answer. Don’t be afraid to ask the people, since this is what your government decided; do you want to be in Europe or not?
A referendum in the current form serves only one purpose, to divide the Greek people and deregulate the social cohesion. But Greek people have stayed united throughout the Greek history, even in very dark times for our country. They will stay united this time yet again and will clearly say YES in Sunday’s referendum.