The answer is NO … but what was the question?

At the time of writing it has become pretty clear that the outcome of today’s ferendum in Greek is a resounding NO.

No to what?

This is much less clear. Even supposing that many of those who cast their votes today were able to understand the proposals by the so-called “Troika” (i.e., the European Commission, the IWF, and the European Central Bank) they were asked to accept or reject, these proposals were not any more on the table anyway. And it seems unlikely that any more advantageous proposals are going to follow.

At best, today’s vote can be interpreted as a declaration of confidence for the country’s current Government consisting of unruly extremists from both the left and right. If the participants in the referendum didn’t understand the details of the deal they rejected, they certainly did understand that Alexis Tsipras and Gianis Varoufakis wanted to defy the rest of the EU – and they provided them with their endorsement. Whatever the question was, the answer is NO…

But the answer is more important than the question. It simply shows that the EU enjoys no more trust and sympathies in Greece – despite the extraordinary (and irresponsible) efforts it has made to save the country from bankruptcy. And whatever else one may think of the men currently governing Greece, in one point they are right: the policy since the outbreak of the Euro crisis cannot be described otherwise than as a complete and terrible failure.

Greece will now probably leave the Euro, and it will probably do so in a disordered fashion.

It is now time for a bit of realism. The country’s creditors must realize that Greece is never going to repay its debt. It could not repay the debt even if it wanted to, but in addition it doesn’t want to. It is time to write the debt off.

On the other hand, the Greek government will have to realize that appeals to national pride will not suffice to feed the populace. The rest of the EU, which includes several countries with lower living standards than Greece, cannot be asked to subsidize Greece indefinitely. Also, a country that is not serving its debt will not find any new creditors. The only solution that is left for Greece is to leave the Euro, introduce a new currency, devaluate it rapidly, and then reform its economy. And it seems very unlikely that a lot of help will come from those whom Tsipras and Varoufakis have denounced as “bandits”, “blackmailers”, or “terrorists”.

On the evening of the referendum, the country is drunk with nationalistic sentiments. But it will soon wake up to say that this is a sad day both for Greece and Europe. And for the EU’s ruling class the time has come to ask whether there is not something fundamentally wrong with their style of managing the continent…

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