The Greek people said NO to the Troika and the debt

By Miguel Sorans

The triumph of the NO in the Greek referendum by nearly 62 percent to 38 percent of the YES, was overwhelming, a great victory for the Greek workers and people. They defeated all the pressures of imperialism, of the Greek bankers and bosses and their scaremongering campaign. The dilemma is how the Syriza government will be using this popular victory. Will it take advantage of it to continue mobilising against the impositions of the Troika or will it go towards a new covenant of concessions?

The NO has not been a great political victory of the Greek people, with the NO to new agreements to continue the adjustments. There was a lot of pressure towards the YES. Several polls enlarged the YES. The reality is in plain sight. Again the Greek people expressed at the polls and in the streets their long resistance against the cuts and the memoranda of the Troika. It reaffirmed its struggle of over 30 general strikes and its turn to the left to search for a way out of poverty, mass unemployment and the looting of the country by the IMF and the European Union (EU).

The YES of the Troika and the Greek right failed. Also the dreadful policy of the Stalinist KKE (Greek Communist Party) who called to return a void ballot paper, which, added to the blank vote, barely reached 5.7%.

The Troika has been again defeated. But there is a danger that the leaders of Syriza and its centre-left government led by Alexis Tsipras will again yield to the pressures and pact a new agreement that will not serve the Greek people and its youth. The other alternative is that forced by the pressures of the popular triumph of NO and the harsh claims by the Troika, it will not be able to close a deal, for the crisis to continue and the non-payment (default) of the Greek debt to remain. Of course the crisis is very acute. Every day there are twists and turns. This article may even be outdated by the time it reaches the readers. But what is not going to be outdated is the dilemma Greece faces: either to continue to be tied to agreements with the Troika to continue paying a fraudulent debt or to stop paying to turn these funds to the people’s needs.

The Greek foreign debt is so unpayable that the IMF itself came out, days before the referendum, to propose a rebate of 30 percent and a “grace period” by the creditors for 20 years. Has the IMF become of the left? No, it calls for a new manoeuvre, already applied in other countries; because the old debt becomes “bonds” to be renegotiated and the “removal” is subject to a “new bailout” (a “help” of some €52 billion) to proceed with the cuts to the Greek people. In other words, a “new debt” to continue plundering.

This type of mechanism is called “restructuring” of the debt. So it is noteworthy that this is also the Syriza government’s proposal and of many who call themselves of the left or progressive as the economist Thomas Piketty, who stated that “the only solution for Athens will be to restructure the debt” (Clarin, Argentina, 7 July 2015).

This prescription has already been applied in Argentina since 2005, under the government of Nestor Kirchner, and the result was negative for the Argentine people. Instead of lowering the debt, it increased. It was called “deleveraging”. In 2001, in the worst moment of the crisis, the debt was 144.453 billion dollars and 50 percent of GDP. In 2009, after the supposed, “deleveraging”, it rose to 147.119 billion dollars and remained at 50 percent of GDP (*). And now, in 2015, the debt, poverty and looting of Argentina by the multinationals remain. The alternative to the crisis is not to restructure the debt but to stop paying it. A scam is not paid.

The only way out for the people and youth of Greece is to take advantage of the triumph of the NO to continue the mobilisation to demand the government of Syriza to return to the mandate the working people and the youth gave it in the elections of January 2015 to end with the memoranda and social cuts agreed with the Troika. For this reason, it is very important that this banner be taken up by the sectors of Syriza’s left, which have spoken against any agreement with the Troika, for the suspension of debt payment and the nationalisation of the banks. And that, together with trade unions and other sectors of the Greek revolutionary left, call to mobilise for these objectives.

* See data in Deuda externa, colonización, miseria y corrupción [Foreign debt, colonization, misery and corruption}, Editions El Socialista.

Miguel Sorans is a leader of Izquierda Socialista in Argentina [Socialist Left] and of the International Workers Unity-Fourth International (IWU-FI)