Today DiEM25 marks the anniversary of the brave Greeks’ OXI (No!) referendum vote but also of its own beginnings.
“Our NO is a majestic, big YES to a democratic Europe!”, wrote Varoufakis at the time, heralding the gist of DiEM25 – namely that, a Yes to a sustainable, democratic Europe must pass through the tortuous but worthy path of a No to an authoritarian, austerian, troika-controlled EU.
DiEM25 was born at the time the Athens Spring was being crushed and the referendum mandate discarded.
Naturally, the 5th of July is a special anniversary for DiEM25 – for the Democracy in Europe Movement that was, in effect, conceived in the heat and light of the OXI referendum.
Yanis Varoufakis addressing the press on the night of the OXI (No!) referendum:
On the 25th of January 2015, dignity was restored to the people of Greece.
In the five months that intervened since then, we became the first government that dared raise its voice, speaking on behalf of the people, saying NO to the damaging irrationality of our extend-and-pretend ‘Bailout Program’.
confined the troika to its Brussels’ lair
articulated, for the first time in the Eurogroup, a sophisticated economic argument to which there was no credible response
internationalised Greece’s humanitarian crisis and its roots in intentionally recessionary policies
spread hope beyond Greece’s borders that democracy can breathe within a monetary union hitherto dominated by fear.
Ending interminable, self-defeating, austerity and restructuring Greece’s public debt were our two targets. But these two were also our creditors’ targets, except inversely: From the moment our election seemed likely, the powers-that-be started a bank run and planned, eventually, to shut Greece’s banks down. Their purpose?
To humiliate our government by forcing us to succumb to stringent austerity, and
To drag us into an agreement that offers no firm commitments to a sensible, well-defined debt restructure.
The ultimatum of 25th June was the means by which they planned to achieve these aims. The people of Greece today returned this ultimatum to its senders; despite the fear mongering that the domestic oligarchic media transmitted night and day into their homes.
Our NO is a majestic, big YES to a democratic Europe.
It is a NO to the dystopic vision of a Eurozone that functions like an iron cage for its peoples.
It is a loud YES to the vision of a Eurozone offering the prospect of social justice with shared prosperity for all Europeans.
The referendum of 5th July will stay in history as a unique moment when a small European nation rose up against debt-bondage.
Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached. It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms.
The superhuman effort to honour the brave people of Greece, and the famous OXI (NO) that they granted to democrats the world over, is just beginning.
A few hours later, after meeting with Prime Minister Tsipras, it became clear to Varoufakis that his own government was about to throw in the towel. After failing to dissuade Tsipras, he wrote his letter of resignation in the early hours of the 6th of July. Acknowledging the campaign by the troika to having him removed, and replaced by a Minister of Finance willing to sign the ‘surrender papers’, Varoufakis’ statement ended with the words: “And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”
On that same day, together with hundreds of democrats from across Europe, the elements of DiEM25 began to fall into place.
A year later, with the EU at an advanced stage of disintegration, what began with the OXI referendum, DiEM25’s struggle, is proving to be a struggle for Europe’s integrity and soul.