Greece is about to give European democracy a chance

democracySomething is amiss in our Europe.

When the constitutional process of a proud European democracy seemed to be leading, quite properly, to elections (as was the case in Greece since the Fall), the European Commission, various governments and the commentariat-at-large intervened, presenting the prospect of elections (the crowning moment of the democratic process) as a disaster-in-the-making; as a calamity to be avoided at all cost.

When the elections became inescapable, the same power brokers began to lecture the citizens of this small, proud nation on how to vote. And when these voters seemed eager to vote differently, European Union authorities began to warn any new government that might emerge that it should consider itself a caretaker of the agreements that the previous government had struck with the European Union – that any thought of re-negotiating them should perish instantly.

Is this what our dreams of Europe have come to? Has Europe come to a point where elections are seen as a problem, rather than the source of solutions? Have Brussels-based government appointees grown so stupendously arrogant as to imagine that they can tell electorates how to vote? Have we reached a point when a people is told that if they vote in a government that seeks to renegotiate an asphyxiating international loan agreement, they face non-functioning ATMs within days?

There is, indeed, something amiss in our Europe and Greece, the proverbial canary in the mine, has brought it to the surface. Europeans from Helsinki to Lisbon and from Dublin to Cyprus must now make it their collective business to resuscitate that which once inspired us: a penchant for democracy.


  • Congratulations. This is an eloquent way to send this powerful message. Yes, economic tyranny is something the Greek people will have to defeat if democracy is going to have a chance.

  • Yiani, congratulations for your commentary. The democratic process as it is realized by free elections will help the Greek people to take the right decisions for their country. Again the major issue is for Greece to reclaim its National sovereignty? National sovereignty and Democratic elections are the two necessary conditions for Greece to proceed in the future and help the rest of the Europeans to stand up against the disastrous austerity economic policies.

  • Yanis, You are right on the money. What has taken place to date should be an outrage for any thinking citizen and I am surprised that the bureaucrats and banks have managed to get away with what they have to date. It is surely time for change.

  • There is no democracy in Greece. It’s basically an oligarchy run by a handful of wealthy families controling an ever shrinking economic pie. I have friends on the right that are actually fed up of Samaras and the coalition government because they squandered a real opportunity to finally cut the cancer that has plagued Greece for decades — a bloated, corrupt and inefficient public sector that continues to weigh the country down. Hardly any jobs were cut in the public sector in Greece over the last five years. The brunt of the massive job cuts was borne by the private sector. And the reason? Because Greek politicians on the left and right keep feeding the public sector beast to control votes, making promises the country simply cannot afford. So my friends on the right are fed up and want SYRIZA to win so it can “expedite the downfall of Greece and kill the public sector beast once and for all.” While I understand their exasperation, their logic is twisted and foolish. They should be careful for what they wish for because a SYRIZA victory will only extend Greece’s depression and quite possibly send the country back to the Dark Ages.

    • The Greek economy is not about to become the German economy in anyone’s lifetime. Yet they share the same currency.

      This arrangement can only be preserved through a system of transfer payments. This is the case in the U.S.

      In the US, the military budget is the main source of transfer payments, cloaked under patriotism. This can’t happen in Europe. So the transfer payments have to be more overt, which creates immediate hostility.

      Which brings us back to main issue, Europeans see themselves in terms of countries , not a unified whole.

    • Well your ‘friends on the right’ obviously work for or support the Greek oligarchs, who are hugely increasing their already bloated fortunes during the crisis – at the expense of honest greek taxpayers and with the full collusion of the ND coalition. Indeed, the entire purpose of the ND coalition is to enrich and increase the grip on the country of its mostly junta-era oligarchs through Troika agencies such as TAIPED. Much to the annoyance of Troika, whose own foreign Oligarchs are repeatedly cut out of the game.

      As to the famous over-staffed civil service, (which was at its peak on the EU average in size and is now one of the smallest) Greece’s geography – mountains and 1200 island archepelago) demands a larger civil service than the EU average. Whereas same population Belgium needs only 2 airports, we are disconnected internally without the 30+ small airports and even more landing strips in place. The islands need harbour masters, douanerie, coast guard etc. Furthermore our number one industry, tourism, needs full infrastructure – medical, utilities, emergency etc – to function. Not all these jobs can be privatised without endangering Greece and its responsibilities under international law.


    • “Europeans see themselves in terms of countries , not a unified whole.”

      No Problem the EU bureaucrats would even risk a civil war in order to realize their pipe dream of the EU being one country!

  • It is rather simple, Yanis. The present tyranny in Brussels rules its members like colonies and sees anything to do with democracy with great dismay. In a larger sense, the pro-EU politicians favor this top heavy tyranny over their citizens. Indeed the power and authority of the current Frankenstein government in Greece derives from Brussels, not the Greek people.

    All over Europe, people are revolting against the EU political elite. In France and the UK, the revolt is from the right in the form of UKIP and Front National. Even the Germans are revolting with their own growing anti-EU movement. These are large countries, who have national pride and belief in their countries. They are the prime payers into the system. The other extreme are the poor dependent, client states like the Ukraine, knocking on the EU door for money on the Greek example of failed bootstrapping theory.

    The EU periphery expresses their revolt via the political Left. The Left were supportors traditionally of international Socialism. They have no interest in nation states. Their mentality – like the Ukrainians – is a big hand that eternally feeds them and finances their political ambitions. PASOK in Greece is the prime example of this school of thought. Now PASOK is a party without voters. The PASOK Barons are among the wealthiest Greeks, but they have lost their voters to SYRIZA…. It was also very fitting that the proposed Greek president, Stavros Dimas was a former EU commissioner for Greece and his support from ‘independents’ came almost exclusively from deputies of the Left. The two ex-GD deputies were votes by force and coercion, either Dimos vote or more jail, so they really should be eliminated entirely.

    Let’s see if this ensuing chaos in Greece brings (re)-creation! I sure hope so and do not see other alternatives. No gain without some pain….

  • Of course, Yani, the European response to recent events in Greece has been onerous, and anathema to what one would have expected given europe’s ‘high ideals’ and the veneration of democracy.

    It lets slip a truth about our total subjugation to capital.

    We can only hope that now the Greek people find a sense of renewed pride in themselves, in their history and culture, and in the beginnings of a new political effort starting on the 25th.

    That way at least, the difficulties of the last few years might be recorded as the ‘birth pangs’ of the new.

  • Europe is Fourth Reich nowadays; no leadership, no state, no central bank. The point is: do Syriza REALLY want the euroexit?
    In my opinion the whole of S. Europe should LEAVE for good, and we would recover in a few years,France included. It makes NO sense to keep on talking to Schauble & Weidmann. The Euro is good for creditors, full stop. And it mandates austerity and deflation = collapse for debtors. No way out but ….leaving.
    My feeling is that Syriza and Podemos do not REALLY want to leave, and this is BAD. I may be utterly wrong as I am not Greek and I am not Spanish.
    Thanks and good luck to all of us. We need to pulll together.

    • Only a coordinated exit from the eurozone makes sense. Unilateral moves by Syriza are doomed to failure. Berlin loves to give a public display of a lesson to upstarts.

    • Hi, I am Spanish.

      It doesn’t matter to be in or out the EU. What does matter is if, as a country, you are able to produce enough goods, provide enough services and provide stable juridical frameworks for millions of people. That’s a f***ing country. A place to live and make business in FREEDOM.

      Spain (and I suspect Greece too) is becoming a worse place for all of the above said everyday.

      It doesn’t matter what the majority says. It matters what the majority BELIEVES.
      South Europe has been poisoned with socialism (colectivism) and in the other side there’s only crony capitalism and fascism.

      It is not luck what we need.

      Europe, as it is now, is not a good deal. Even for “core” members (talking about people, human beings, not about “corporations”).

      To leave? To stay?
      FOR WHAT?


    • Spain is similar to the EU. It forces people to live in one country against their will.

  • I would only add that the whole ideal of “democracy” has always been a red herring or empty promise. Even the founders of America made every effort to stave off “mob rule” by limiting the vote to property-owning men. The whole notion is now just trotted out as a way to attack perceived enemy regimes and rationalize attacking them (see Iraq, Syria, etc as contrasted with Saudi Arabia, Mubarrak´s Egypt, etc.). Another great example was the vote in Gaza when the “wrong” people (Hamas) won. It will be interesting to see how effective the impending propaganda campaign will be in Greece in the run-up to the elections – I won´t be surprised to see SYRIZA lose. And if they do win, it will be even more interesting to see how they will be neutered by the elites. Good Luck, Greece!

  • I have been a supporter of the European Communities since 1975, when I voted in the UK referendum in favour of staying in. Subsequently, like some (but not all) on the Left, I saw the increased citizens’ rights and privileges that came direct from the EC as making significant inroads into Thatcherite ideology and practices. This is still true, although more weakly so — since neoliberal ideology has penetrated the dogma of political elites across all of the EU.

    However, what was always very clear was that the EU (to use the current terminology) was very poorly located within democratic processes — relying largely on national democratic systems whose governments then sent representatives to the European Council meetings — and minimising the role of the directly elected European Parliament. The democratic deficit became yet more visible with Treaty reforms, when national constitutions of a few countries sometimes required a referendum. Instead of making this mandatory for all countries, Europe’s politicians decided to minimise this element as much as they could. This resulted in the failure of political leaders to impose a “European Constitution” over the peoples of Europe, with rejection by referendums in France and Holland in 2005.

    The final phase of democratic deficit — now categorisable as anti-democratic beliefs — was shown, remarkably, in the last Greek general elections. Direct interference in the democratic process is now seen as justified in order to maintain the integrity of the European Union as a political and economic entity. Paradoxically, Greece’s membership (via an Association Agreement) of the EC had been removed, owing to the 1967 military coup and its incompatibility with principles of democracy and human rights, as required by Greece’s membership of the Council of Europe. As far as I know, Greece is the only European country to have been expelled from the EC for lack of democracy; yet now, it is threatened with a similar fate for upholding democracy!

    How do we explain this paradox? First and foremost, Greece is far from being a typical European country (I shall say no more, on this point). Secondly, if you (painfully) read the revised lengthy Treaties that came out of the Lisbon round, you can see even from the legal texts that Europe has changed. From being an idealistic vision of post-World War II, it has morphed into a complex and amorphous political entity that is concerned with political compromise, secret agreements that are unknown to voters and explicit formulas with stated objectives (such as, “the currency of the EU is the euro”). In other words, it has abandoned democracy other than the theatre of occasional elections and (God forbid) referenda on major issues. The current Treaties read more like the sort of contract signed by multinational oil companies, instead of basic principles by which we should all abide. Moreover, they also look like the same sort of nonsense as the eurozone — that is, ignorant politicians denying the realities of economics and society in order to impose “their vision” of how things should be.

    So, whereas Greece in the 1960s and 1970s looked to Europe for democratic guidance and support, this is no longer true. I would like to say that Europe could perhaps look to Greece for this guidance now, but I fear I will be wrong. My prognosis is gloomy: I think all of Europe is in for a very bad time, lasting decades, and with uncertain outcomes.

    • Excellent post, thank you.

      In fact the EU Constitution was re-constituted as the Lisbon Treaty, with religious references dropped, and imposed on Europeans without referenda, and signed into law through the sole agreement of Europe’s national leaders.

      It is worth noting that all the EU politicians today, with the exception of the maligned and negatively propagandised Victor Orban, are mediocre neoliberalist nonentities and this is not an accident. The EU plays an important background role in their ‘electibility’, similar to AIPAC in the USA. Europe’s national politicians are, to put it politely, “systemic”. In the same way, the EEC plotted for Margeret Thatcher’s downfall, which was achieved by its UK Conservative intermediaries, the very evening after she warned parliament against the euro as a political project. A putsch.

    • Exactly, if the people said no three times, the bureaucrats in Brussels don´t care just rename it and implement it anyways. Some day hopefully a mad crowd will hang them for this!

  • This small and oh so proud nation managed to create a very impressive cleptocracy and bureaucracy. As for democracy, I do hope the Greeks use this chance to finally kick the ‘elites’ out of office. Public sector, private sector, the unions: everywhere. Then pls. do what Syirzia promised to do. German tax payers will lose another 80 bn in case of a Grexit aka default. But I’d rather take that than continuing forever to shovel over limitless amounts of money into the bottomless pit Greek was made by her ‘elites’. Moreover, this could and should be the trigger to the complete dismantling of the ridiculous common currency.

    • It’s funny how ridiculously naively and arrogantly you are responding to the topic, proving your complete ignorance on the very nature of this crisis. Talking about cleptocracy while ignoring the crimes the German (and other north-european banks) banks have committed. And there you will find the bottomless pits you are referring to 😉
      Let me remind you that a potential Grexit will not be good for you because it will be followed by other countries as well. A potential dismantling of common currency will affect extremely negatively German exports competitiveness. Hence, all your arguments are at fault!

      Happy new year!

    • Vantonis – you are right, “the German (and other north-european banks) banks” have loaned way too much money to Greece without caring if the loans were secure – but who took the loans? Were those small children who couldn’t have known what they were doing? Were they grown up people who should have known what they were doing?
      Either way, I agree, this does not make “the German (and other north-european banks) banks” look good at all. But it makes “the Greeks” who have borrowed like crazy even worse.
      There is a reason why “the German (and other north-european banks) banks” were able to give all these bad loans in places like Greece, but not in places like Germany, and the reason is not that there is a German master plan to take over Greece through the banks. The reason is that the banks are far better regulated and controlled in Germany than they are in Greece, and there is far less corruption among those whose control the banks than in Greece.
      And, of course, the debt crisis did a lot of damage to “the ordinary Germans”, too, so there we have that paradox situation that the political and financial system in Germany works far better than in Greece because Germans have learned from their bad history while Greece is basically still a banana republic, and the attempt to help Greece develop a little by making it easier for “the Greeks” to have access to money to build up their economy really led to nothing.

    • Michael,

      First of all, happy new year.

      Secondly, I’ll start by agreeing that the greek political and financial system in Germany probably works better than in Greece 🙂 Noone is denying that and greeks are the first to ack & accept this and wanting this to change.. Hence this post from Yanis after all and hence the unrest of greek people and the support to the opposition. If you are not aware, current government, previous one (both puppet governments btw supported by Merkel etc), also the one before that and the ones of 10-20 years in the past, are the corrupt ones, the ones that over-borrowed and that’s why we want this to change. We don’t want that type of people anymore in our government and hope this makes sense to you.

      Then.. plenty of your arguments are inaccurate and deluded. I’ll try to make my point:

      “[…] but who took the loans? Were those small children who couldn’t have known what they were doing? Were they grown up people who should have known what they were doing? […]”

      When a loan is given, both the lender and the borrower have accountability. You might not like this but that’s the way it is.. Especially when with the last two bailouts, money is given to Greece when Merkel knows very well that it’s impossible for Greece to pay them back… ever. As simple as that. Banks are greedy so don’t talk about small children vs serious business men etc etc. There is no rationality when talking about banks…

      And by the way when I mentioned the crimes that “the German (and other north-european banks) banks have committed”, I mainly meant their reckless overexposure to Wall Street and CDOs back in 2008, which in essence made them insolvent or brought them very close to insolvency (and this was not the case for Greek banks btw – google it).

      So based on the above two paragraphs, i’d suggest that you revisit your argument “The reason is that the banks are far better regulated and controlled in Germany than they are in Greece”

      Anyways, there’s no point really to agree that we disagree. 🙂 I assume you share my belief that if all those billions were in fact helping re-build the greek economy and make it self sustainable, instead of *only* giving those billions to the banks, it would make more sense for the german’s taxpayer money and for eurozone. And guess what? That’s what the opposition also would like to do!

      I assume you don’t really believe that all these billions (bailouts) were given to Greece to help build their economy…. if yes then please try to learn more about the other side of the coin. Not only the one that is being fed by german media.


  • Go Yanis, go! I am not a leftist but I want Syriza to succeed. It is only with shame that I read about Greeks not being able to pay for their cancer medications. Where is our European solidarity? Why do the poorest and the weakest have to pay for the mistakes the banks made? Yes, go Yanis!

  • Thank God Yani that you seem to be waking up to the legal, moral and democratic disaster that is the post-1989 EU.

    One telling detail that you might not be aware of:
    ALL employees of the EU, temporary and full-time, have a clause in their contracts that forbids all and any public criticism of the EU, its structure and policies. This includes simple analysis. Should an employee violate this he/she is immediately dismissed and stripped of his/her pension and any financial / legal claims on the EU bureaucracy. Should a retired employee violate this clause they immediately are stripped of their pensions. Bernard Connolly is one example. Following his public criticisms of the ERM in the evening at the conclusion of an EU conference, he was prevented the next morning – by armed security guards – from entering his Brussels office, and his photograph was posted on every building forbidding his entry, like a Wild West “Wanted” poster. Within 12 hours he was out in the cold.

    This goes some way towards explaining the peculiar dearth of criticism / analysis of the EU structure & workings.

    Meanwhile here is an excellent article by William Black:

  • Yani – it’s very discouraging to see someone as educated and – seemingly – cosmopolitan to resort to such rhetoric. Greece is not “a proud democracy” – and yes, we know, democracy was sort of invented in Greece a very long time ago blablabla – Greece today is a banana republic, and fessing up to that would be the first step towards solving some of the many massive problems the country has.
    Greece has a lot of damage by undermining democracy in other countries like Germany where the financial system is better regulated and monitored by allowing the banks from those countries who can not act like they were in a banana republic “at home” but the Greeks went crazy like immature adolescents and borrowed like there was no tomorrow.
    And then they run through the streets with pictures of the German chancellor in Nazi uniform and other stuff like that – very immature all that, too.
    So please, let go of these illusions that Greece is here to “fight for democracy” against the evil EU or something like that. You know better than that, and we know that you know better. Maybe you can’t really speak freely yourself since you are employed at a state university – and I wonder where the money for that comes from?
    Or maybe you don’t want to, after all, you have that cozy job there in effect paid for by tax payers from other European countries. BTW, I was very happy for you to see how much time you had off in the summer. You are welcome! 😉

    • I am only posting this as an example of the depths to which European discourse has descended. A post that insinuates that my University of Texas salary comes from shady sources and this explains my view that Greek democracy has been crushed by the EU’s handling of the crisis. A post that claims that Greece undermined German democracy (and not by, for instance, the shenanigans of Deutsche Bank)…

    • Oh come on, let’s not be silly, you know that I wasn’t referring to whatever you do at the University of Texas. Your CV says that you are, or used to be, at the University of Athens for many years, and that’s a state university, and the Greek state had to be bailed out by the EU, so… and I wasn’t talking about “shady money” either.

      So – about the shenanigans of the DB and other major banks in Germany and other countries. I know you know exactly what I am talking about, but let me spell it out anyway. Then you can tell me where I am wrong, and why.

      We all know that banks are by their very nature predatory businesses. They are there to make money, and more money, and more money. History has shown time and time again that when they are not well regulated and monitored, they go crazy and end up burning down whole economies. That is a universal problem, it has nothing to do with whatever country they are based in.
      In Germany, banks are far more regulated and monitored than in many other countries. There are historical reasons for that, the historical experience of how big banks and big industry funded the Nazis because the re-armament of Germany made them big and fat again after the lean years of the Weimar Republic is the most significant of those. Wars are first and foremost of all big, big business, and that is also a universal problem, not one specific to any one country or any period of history.
      For the same reasons, politicians in Germany are also far more scrutinized than they are in many other countries. Many of them still are corrupt, and many of them still are liars and eggheads (another universal phenomenon), but overall, the political process and with it the monitoring of politicians and big banks and big business works pretty well. It’s far from perfect, but it has worked well enough in past decades so they Germany economy was not burnt down by them. And a lot of that is again a result of the collective learning processes Germany had to go through after the catastrophes of the earlier 20th century.
      Remember how the previous Bundespräsident Wolff stumbled over actually very minor corruption and lack of transparency issues? That was a sign of a fairly well working democracy.
      A very important aspect of all that is the break with old ideas of national pride and patriotism – a universal problem that, too – following the nationalist excesses of the Third Reich, and that is a good thing because all that is just used to distract people from the real issues of society and economy. And that is a universal phenomenon, too. The stone age tribal mindset that is still deeply ingrained in all of us.

      So – what do those big banks do? They go to countries where they are far less regulated and monitored – like Greece – countries in which the political class is far more corrupt – like Greece -, less monitored and held accountable – like Greece – and where the common people are far easier to distract with nationalist nonsense and appeals to their national pride – like Greece. And they go crazy there because the people go crazy when they have access to all that money, all that seemingly easy money, and they borrow and spend and borrow and spend and borrow and spend – like Greece.

      Then – they completely crash. But that’s their problem, isn’t it? No, it isn’t, because we all got into that big boat together, that big boat called the EU, and now it is time for the bigger countries to bail them out. So in effect, countries like Germany get punished because their economy works better and their monitoring of the big banks and political class works better.
      So what the big banks can not do in Germany – or at least not do as easily – they can do in backwards countries like Greece, and then those countries have to be bailed out, and the tax payers in more functional countries like Germany get to pay for the dysfunctionality of countries like Greece.

      That, in turn, leads to the undermining of the German economy, to dissatisfaction, that opens the door for political extremists and populists, and that undermines democracy in Germany.

      And none of the above is specific to Greece or Germany as such, those are universal mechanisms. We have seen them at work in Germany in the earlier part of the 20th century, but most people in Germany have learned from history. While, as the disturbingly nationalist reactions of many people in Greece to the crisis have clearly shown, many people in Greece have not learned from history.

      So, as the saying goes, in Greece, history now repeats itself.

    • Your insinuations are sillier than they are offensive. But please post them on other sites. There are plenty devoted to defaming me. Good bye – as of now you are banned from this site.

  • When I was at the university and read public international law as my minor, there was a concept of “pacta sunt servanda”. Obviously, in Greece’s case it only applies to the international lenders – not Greece, particularly if the Government changes.

    As for the “asphyxiating loan agreement”: without it, Greece would have been outside of Euro and bankrupt several years ago. Syriza acts like a beggar who is setting conditions to the people with good will to help. You spend no time in saying how the moneys required by Greece will be found and how the cost of the State will be cut so that it beomes self-sustained. I find it a sad testament of that attitude that next year is the first in decades, when from the first day on the State budget is not deficitary.

    On the ultimate issue, the elections, I agree with you. The only right way is to ask people for the direction. Elections is what has brought Greece to where it is now: over endebted, overly public sector driven etc. Every country has politicians it deserves and votes for. Perhaps there is something that we might have learned from this ordeal.

    • >As for the “asphyxiating loan agreement”: without it, Greece would have been outside of Euro and bankrupt several years ago.

      Greece is bankrupt and the loans enhanced its bankruptcy, rather than prevent it. Remember: No bankrupt entity escapes its insolvency through large loans and policies that reduce its aggregate income.

      >Syriza acts like a beggar who is setting conditions to the people with good will to help.

      To the contrary. SYRIZA will restore the dignity of the Greek government by refusing predatory loans that, instead of helping Greece, are dragging it deeper down into the abyss of bankruptcy.

    • I agree with you that the loans are not sustainable. I think every sensible politician silently does think so – even in Greece. The question is how that burden is offloaded from the books: by one sided action or by negotiations as the previous haircut was done.

      What I don’t understand is how are you going to get cheaper money from anywhere to cover up the Greek needs. That applies in the scenario of negotiations and particularly in case of a unilateral cut of liabilities.. What Greece gets from its EU partners is already greatly under the real market price for Greece. So you are embarking on a project to make cheap even cheaper. Forget not, the other side that you are going to talk to, has voters they need backing from too.

    • We will not borrow anything, at least until the debt is sustainable again. THe Greek state will have to live within its means. Period. But at the same time, the predatory loans that we always opposed will have to be haircut.

    • I must be boring… but I am getting curious too. If the official line is that “THe Greek state will have to live within its means. Period.”, then how can Syriza afford its electoral promises from raising of the minimum salaries to other social policies? Please don’t tell me that you are going to tackle tax evasion. Are you cutting army, health, schools or something else instead? Are you going to nationalise profit making companies to get the money or tax some people even more than they pay now?

    • Simple. The minimum wage rise concerns the private sector. Nothing to do with the public sector borrowing requirement. The social policies’ cost comes to 2 billion, which is less than the existing primary surplus, currently thrown into the debt repayments’ black hole.

    • Yes, you are right. Obviously the obligatory minimum wage burdens only the private sector. So to be clear then: you are going to put the only part of the economy that produces new wealth, i.e. the private sector, to raise the salaries when they hardly can keep their people employed. That doesn’t sound to me like a very good approach for creating growth. But what do I know, I have only a small minor in economics.

      Considering that there is no public money, but only money that is generated by private enterprise and a very few public entities actually producing something of value added on the free markets, you are very quick at spending it. Why on earth, after what you just said, would any sensible person who works in a private company in Greece vote for Syriza? It means more costs, more tax and same burden from the public sector.

      Obviously we will not agree. But I have to thank you for an honest and open discussion. This seldom happens on television or radio interviews. I have a much better idea now, provided that what you say is the official line of the party, where you’d like to take this country.

    • Dialogue is everything. Along these lines, let me point out an important piece of macroeconomics: If one company pays a higher minimum wage, it is at a disadvantage in relation to competitors who do not. If all companies increase their minimum wage, in an environment of extremely low aggregate demand, no company suffers a competitive disadvantage. What happens then is that the additional wages are spent on goods and services and all employers, who are also sellers, benefit.

    • “Every country has politicians it deserves and votes for. Perhaps there is something that we might have learned from this ordeal…..” I wish it were simple like it. There is not ideal democracy and always the public opinion is controlled in the highest degree or manipulated the lowest. We need to realize as I have mentioned before the key issue for Greece is the people to realize that they have lost their National Sovereignty to the greatest degree close to the level of been occupied. Off course was never a Sovereign Nation realistically speaking since its independence in the beginning of the 19th century.
      A list of policies that will help to reverse the current trend of social decay (not just of a simple economic crisis) will not come from Europe or through any successful negotiations to relieve Greece from the “Asphyxiation” of the current agreements with troika.

      A list of policies that have been suggested in various instances in the Greek blogs, but are not discussed by the established media to restore the Greek pride and the National Sovereignty to the great degree are below;

      – Delete the term “debt renegotiation” or “debt restructuring to be serviceable” but talk about “debt offsetting” with the German debt to Greece with a fix rate of 1% a term of 50-100 years. The unpaid balance to Greece of the loans to German occupying authorities in Greece is EUR 225 billions in current EUROS without interest. With interest should be more than EURO 500 Billions. The terms should be similar with those for the payment of the debt to Poland and Yugoslavia.

      – Greece freezes the payment to Troika and stops contributing to the EU budget until the issue of return of the 17.5 tones of Greek National Gold are returned which were confiscated by Great Britain in 1941 and put a lien on all British and German properties in Greece from OTE to Summer homes on the Greek Islands until above debt is paid off.

      – Referendum by the Greek people to decide on the illegal Chapter of the European Central Bank, which forbids the borrowing of the European member countries with the same low interest rates applicable to the banks. The privilege of the banks to buy State Bonds which should be purchased directly by the depositors to the banks.

      – Creation of special free trading areas on remote Islands and Mountain towns to stop their deserting. Zero VAT for Fuels, Food, Drinks and Cigarettes in small Islands in the same areas.

      – National agricultural policy with the immediate implementation of tariffs in the imported food and drinks for the protection of the local agricultural production. (It is unacceptable for Greece to import Lemons from Argentina, and garlic from China and Turkey in the name of the free enterprise global system to become competitive).

      – “Seisachthia” delete all the debt and penalties to the state up to 10,000 EUR for all.
      the balance to be arranged to be paid in 120 of zero interest installments. The foreclosure bidding of the first residence is forbidden.

      – Issue food stamps immediately for the unemployed, low pensioners, multifamily and the poor as in US.

      – Stop the sanctions to Russia which hart the Greek economy and the Greek people
      and renegotiate the status of the T.A.P (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) for the transfer of natural gas until the fees for the transfer are determined in similar level with the one that it was agreed between Russia, Ukraine and EU. We need to the fee the cost for the safety of the pipeline and a term for a discount of the price of the natural gas in relation to the price to the Russian gas.

      – Immediate pumping of the oil of Thassos and Samothraki in the North Aegean sea.

      – Constitutional revision to state clearly that the “Greek Constitution is above all the European laws, degrees and court judgements” and a requirement of transparency of the family origin and membership to organizations for everyone who wants to participate in public sector (this was set by the first governor of Greece Ioannis Capodistrias).

      Additional policies to enhance the national Sovereignty.

      – Withdraw immediately for Dublin II treaty and reassign the responsibility of the the border safeguard to the Greek national Defense.

      – repatriate all illegal immigrants to their countries or send them where they want to go.

      All the above policies sound unrealistic and it will be painful for sure. There is not escape from the pain no matter if Greece stay in EE or exit it. However time is approaching with these elections for Greece to decide on the course to follow in the future. To be a subservient state to Europe or reclaim its National Sovereignty, stand on their feet with proud citizens as we had used to grow up no matter how poor or rich.

      And as the National poet Adreas Kalvos said:

      “Eνα Έθνος που βλέπει τους εχθρούς του με περιφρόνηση και κοιτάει τον τάφο του με αδιαφορία, δε μπορεί να νικηθεί. “

  • Mr Varoufakis:

    first, congratulations on your victory. Second, I’m pleasantly surprised to see you take the time to respond to most of the comments here.

    I am a resident of France, and we are watching what happens in Athens very, very keenly. It seems a bit strange though to see you comment that “this is what European democracy has come to” (emphasis mine).

    In fact, the EU meta-government has been acting in this way almost since its inception. In virtually every country, the people voted against the giving over of sovereignty to Brussels, and yet it happened anyways.

    I wonder if your vision of democracy extends beyond soverieign debt to, say, border control? Should France be able to say to Brussels “No. We have sovereign interests here that say we ought to be able to remove the thousands of refugees from Pas de Calais from French soil?” Such a move would surely result in a stern rebuke, and no doubt, some sort of penalty.

    Also, as you no doubt know, the newspapers here in France are framing your plans in terms of how they will cost French tax-payers. I am curious how seriously your new government plan to deal with tax cheats?


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