Greece, home of democracy, deprived of a vote
Armed by Papandreou with a referendum, the Greek people had clout. Now, they’re powerless before the troika’s austerity plan
Dean Baker
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 8 November 2011 07.30 EST

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou touched off a firestorm last week when he proposed putting the austerity package designed by the “troika” (the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Union) up for a popular vote. The idea that the Greek people might directly be able to decide their future terrified leaders across Europe and around the world. Financial markets panicked, sending stocks plummeting and bond yields soaring.

However, by the end of the week, things were back under control. The leaders of France and Germany apparently laid down the law to Papandreou and he backed off plans for the referendum. While the government is in the process of collapsing in Greece, the world can now rest assured that the Greek people will not have an opportunity to vote on their future.

This is unfortunate, since it means that Greece’s future will likely be decided by politicians who may not have the interests of the Greek people foremost in their minds. By their own projections, the austerity package designed by the troika promises a decade of austerity, with high unemployment, falling real wages and sharp reductions in public services and pensions. And their projections have consistently proven to be overly optimistic.

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