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The polls in Greece closed fifteen minutes ago as I write. We’ll know the outcome of the vote in a few hours. In the meantime, Stathis Kalyvas, my go-to man on anything Greek—and who voted ‘Nai’ today—has an op-ed just up on WaPo’s Monkey Cage blog, on “Why the Greek referendum is the referendum from hell.”
Personally speaking, I thought the referendum was a crackpot idea from the outset. Since when, in a serious democracy, does a national referendum get called for the following week, on such a momentous issue, and with the question so incomprehensibly worded? À propos, Zizi Papacharissi, professor and head of the communication dept at the University of Illinois-Chicago—who is Greek and presently in Athens—had a commentary yesterday on “A GReferendum state of mind,” in which she argues “why the GReferendum is a bad idea [and] also why all referenda in general rarely work.”
Also à propos, the BBC News website had a comment on June 29th on how “The Greek referendum question makes (almost) no sense.”
Looking at the French angle, columnist Bruno Roger-Petit, observing events from Paris (July 1st), took a dim view of “La gauche française et le référendum de république bananière de Tsipras.” That’s right: Tsipras’s Banana Republic. Money quote
Que diraient [les] entichés de Tsipras si François Hollande, David Cameron ou Angela Merkel organisaient un référendum en moins d’une semaine sur la question européenne, sans campagne et sans question connue dès l’origine ? Ils protesteraient de ce que l’on méprise le peuple français. Ils dénonceraient le populisme de l’affaire. Et ils auraient bien raison.
France Inter political editorialist Thomas Legrand, in his commentary last Wednesday morning, also critiqued the Greferendum, calling it a “bizarrie” and an “aberration.”
Dimitri A. Sotiropoulos, who teaches politics at the University of Athens, weighed in on the Greferendum on the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Greece website (July 3rd), where he said that there has been “A series of blunders of which the largest and latest was Syriza’s…”
UPDATE: Here are Stathis Kalyvas’s “18 tweets on the Greek referendum of July 5, 2015” following the announcement of the ‘Oxi’ victory.
2nd UPDATE: Voilà the early Monday morning roundup of instant analyses:
Paul Krugman (of course), “Ending Greece’s bleeding.” Can hardly disagree with The Man here.
Romaric Godin (of the Paris business daily La Tribune), “Grèce: le ‘non’ grec place Angela Merkel au pied du mur.” This one is quite good.
Zachary Karabell (head of global strategy at Envestnet and contributing editor at Politico Magazine), “Don’t believe the hype about Greece. The Eurozone isn’t on the verge of collapse, yet.”
An interview with Thomas Piketty in Die Zeit, dated June 27th, and translated into English, in which he tells the Germans a few home truths about their own history when it comes to repaying—or not repaying—debt. Piketty is great here. A total must-read.
Pascal Riché (well-known journalist at L’Obs/Rue89), “Grèce: après le ‘non’, tout sauf le ‘grimbo’!” The lede: “Il y a le grexit et le new deal. Mais aussi le ‘grimbo’, l’interminable entre-deux, la solution qui serait de loin la pire. Pour l’éviter, Hollande et Merkel doivent faire preuve d’audace.”
3rd UPDATE: Some late Monday/early Tuesday links:
A smart commentary by FT columnist Gideon Rachman, “Europe should welcome Greece’s vote: Athens and the eurozone have a common interest in making Grexit as painless as possible.” Money quote
If European leaders were thinking clearly, they should see that rather than punishing Greece, it is now in the EU’s interests to do its level best to make sure that Greece can leave the euro, but stay inside the EU with a minimum of pain. If that means giving Greece debt relief as part of the exit package, so be it. Debt relief, in return for Grexit, could make political as well as economic sense.
Even so, restoring the drachma in Greece without provoking an even more intense economic crisis will be very difficult. But, if it could be done, the EU may finally have a model for liberating other European nations from a malfunctioning euro.
George Magnus, Senior Economic Adviser to UBS, in Prospect Magazine, “Greek crisis: How Greece became Europe’s fault line,” in which he reviews Stathis Kalyvas’s latest book. The lede: “Alexis Tsipras and his government will re-engage with their creditors but Greece’s membership of the euro is now in doubt. How did it come to this?”
A nice post by Matthew Yglesias in Vox, “Greek crisis: 11 people and institutions to blame,” i.e. just about everybody. I particularly like nºs 8, 9, and 11.
Stathis Kalyvas observes on Twitter that “The single best example I can give to convey institutional failure in #Greece is the inability to enforce smoking ban in restaurants.” My comment on this: Smoking bans in Turkey are scrupulously respected. I guess that makes the Greeks even more non-European than the Turks…
4th UPDATE: A few Tuesday afternoon links:
Yale University political science prof Nicholas Sambanis writes in WaPo’s Monkey Cage blog on “Why the Greeks rejected Europe’s bailout.”
Indiana University political science prof Kindred Winecoff has a must-read post on the Duck of Minerva blog, which skewers Thomas Piketty’s posture on Germany (see above): “Why Piketty is wrong about debt forgiveness.”
A “Letter from Greece” in Politico by Yannis Palaiologos, a features reporter for the Athens daily Kathimerini, “A populist revolt rocks Greece.” The lede: “Greeks are standing behind their Prime Minister. And courting disaster.”
In Politico.eu, Megan E. Greene, chief economist and managing director of Manulife, says it’s now “Europe’s turn to say ‘Oxi’.” The lede: “After the referendum, a Greek deal may not be impossible but is unlikely.”
Voilà Jean Quatremer of Libé’s latest, “Grexit: tu veux ou tu veux pas?”
And Elie Cohen and Gérard Grunberg deliver their verdict in Telos, “Grèce: et maintenant?”
Robert Misik, an Austrian writer and political commentator, has a lengthy piece dated June 27th, translated from German, and reblogged on Social Europe, “My Greece: The journey inside Syriza.”
5th UPDATE: More late Tuesday links:
Dani Rodrik, who is known to everyone, has a typically on-target piece in Project Syndicate, “Greece’s vote for sovereignty.”
Writing in The Guardian’s ‘Comment is free’, Daniel Howden, a former correspondent for various British publications who presently works for an Athens tech start up, asks “Is Tsipras really looking for a deal with Europe?” The lede: “Despite the Greek leader’s rhetoric on social justice, he appears more intent on consolidating power than resolving this crisis.”
Daniel Cohn-Bendit was the guest on France Inter this morning, with Greece the sole subject (here and here). Entre autres, Dany called for a mediator in the negotiations between Greece and the Eurogroup.
Mark Blyth, the Eastman Professor of Political Economy at Brown University, has a piece in Foreign Affairs on “A pain in the Athens: Why Greece isn’t to blame for the crisis.” So what are roots of the crisis? Answer: they’re far away from Greece and lie in the architecture of European banking.
6th UPDATE: A few Wednesday and Thursday links:
The New Yorker’s John Cassidy asks “Will Angela Merkel Save the European Ideal?”
The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that “Europe is blowing itself apart over Greece – and nobody seems able to stop it.” The lede: “Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras never expected to win Sunday’s referendum. He is now trapped and hurtling towards Grexit.”
Texas Christian University econ prof and Forbes contributor John T. Harvey gives “Five reasons why the Greeks were right.”
University of Wisconsin political science prof Mark Copelovitch, weighing in on the Greek ‘no’ vote in WaPo’s Monkey Cage blog, asks “Is this the end of the Eurozone?”
Also in Monkey Cage is a post by University of Zürich international relations and political economy prof Stefanie Walter, “What were the Greeks thinking? Here’s a poll taken just before the referendum.”
Joseph Stiglitz, writing in Time magazine, asserts that “The U.S. must save Greece.”
Mediapart has a “document” (in English), “‘We underestimated their power’: Greek government insider lifts the lid on five months of ‘humiliation’ and ‘blackmail’.” The lede:
In this interview with Mediapart, a senior advisor to the Greek government, who has been at the heart of the past five months of negotiations between Athens and its international creditors, reveals the details of what resembles a game of liar’s dice over the fate of a nation that has been brought to its economic and social knees. His account gives a rare and disturbing insight into the process which has led up to this week’s make-or-break deadline for reaching a bailout deal between Greece and international lenders, without which the country faces crashing out of the euro and complete bankruptcy. He describes the extraordinary bullying of Greece’s radical-left government by the creditors, including Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s direct threat to cause the collapse of the Hellenic banks if it failed to sign-up to a drastic austerity programme. “We went into a war thinking we had the same weapons as them”, he says. “We underestimated their power”.
Looking at the larger picture, Nobel Prize economics laureate Jean Tirole, in a tribune in Le Monde reblogged in English translation by Social Europe, says that “Europe’s future is federal.”
Swarthmore College visiting professor George Lakey, who has written prolifically on non-violent social action, offers “Four lessons from Iceland and Greece for movements fighting austerity.”
Here’s a pertinent commentary by La Tribune’s Romaric Godin, dated May 12th, “Grèce: pourquoi Yanis Varoufakis est-il insupportable aux Européens?”