Greek people celebrate victory of democracy against austerity

Greek people celebrate victory of No vote in referendum on Syntagma square in Athens

By Robert Stevens and Christoph Dreier in Athens, Greece:

Mass demonstrations in Greece follow vote against EU austerity

6 July 2015

Thousands gathered on Syntagma Square in Athens on Sunday evening, following a resounding rejection of the austerity proposals of the European Union and International Monetary Fund. More than 61 percent of the electorate voted “no.”

This followed Friday’s huge turnout in the square, including many thousands of young people, who declared their intention to vote “Oxi” (“No”) in the referendum.

Young people, having borne the brunt of some of the most brutal austerity measures ever carried out against a European population in peacetime, were critical to the success of the “no” vote, rejecting the proposals by two to one. After more than five years of austerity, 50 percent of Greece’s youth remain unemployed, with no prospect of a future.

Chants of “Oxi!, Oxi! Oxi!” [“No!, No! No!”] rang around Athens Sunday night. Sitting on the steps leading to the Parliament, with an overview of the celebratory scene, Athina, a 20-year-old student from Athens, said, “We think it is the best result that we could have. Now other countries can see the Greek people saying we can’t take any more of this.”

Athina was in Syntagma with three of her student friends. Describing the terrible plight of young people, she said, “It is so difficult for us as students. We have to work all the time.” Her friend Afroditi interjected, “We are paid four euros an hour!”

Athina, Chasan, Afroditi and Francesca (from left)

Athina continued, “We are now 20 years old. We live with our parents and they have no money at all. They can’t live and can’t survive. It was about time this happened. It is clear. It is 60 percent. No!”

Asked what they thought about austerity being the EU’s policy throughout the continent, Afrodite said, “The ones who are bringing this to all the countries, it’s about time for them to pay. We won’t help the rich minority. They are a minority. We are the majority.”

Greek youth were not alone in celebrating the rejection of austerity. David and Ines from the northern Spanish city of Palencia, said they felt they had to come to the square to express their solidarity with the Greek people. Both are studying architecture in Athens as part of an exchange program.

“The vote tonight is very important not only for Greece but for the whole continent”, David told us. “We have a very similar situation in Spain,” Ines added. “We are having to pay for the mistakes of the government and for the richest one percent of society.” Their friend Alexia from Paris, also an exchange student, added that in France an increasing number of austerity measures have been passed.

Despite the celebratory mood, some present were also concerned about the future. One young man told the WSWS, “I voted ‘no’ but I am not celebrating because I also know the risks of this decision.”

Millions of workers and youth in Greece have made clear their hostility to the onslaught of the global financial oligarchy. …

The Guardian posted a snapshot from the island of Evia, where there was a strong “no” vote. It cited the comments of Athina Vlahogiorgou, a single parent with two children, who is one of many long-term unemployed workers. She said, “After the last five years, whoever wants to ignore what’s been done to us has something wrong in their head. This is not about the Drachma or the Euro. This is a class issue.”

The WSWS reporting team from Athens heard these sentiments repeated with ever growing fervour this week.

As news of the decisive rejection of austerity in Greece became clear, the representatives of the European financial oligarchy were unable to conceal their resentment and hostility at the result.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the Eurogroup could not hide his contempt, declaring: “This result is very regrettable for the future of Greece…” Ignoring the repudiation by the Greek people of the measures the Eurogroup was demanding, he said: “For recovery of the Greek economy, difficult measures and reforms are inevitable. We will now wait for the initiatives of the Greek authorities.”

Germany’s economy minister and Social Democratic Party leader Sigmar Gabriel declared the result was a “rejection of the rules of the euro zone,” and that “negotiations about a programme worth billions are barely conceivable.”

Slovakia’s Finance Minister Peter Kažimír bluntly warned, “We will not go gently into this good night.”

Following the result, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande spoke by telephone and agreed to convene a meeting of the eurozone’s leaders, to be held Tuesday afternoon.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is to holding a conference call today with ECB President Mario Draghi, Dijsselbloem, and European Council President Donald Tusk.

Britain’s right-wing Daily Mail summed up the class hostility of the ruling elite to a withering rejection of its cuts programme with the headline, “Meltdown! EU in crisis as Greece voted ‘No’ to crippling cuts and heads for eurozone exit.”

Speaking to the Financial Times Mujtaba Rahman, head of European analysis at the Eurasia Group risk consultancy declared, “Greece has just signed its own suicide note.” …

Following the vote the de facto leader of the “yes” campaign, Antonis Samaras of the conservative New Democracy party tendered his resignation as party leader.

Greeks Say ‘No’ to Troika Bailout Terms by Wide Margin: here.

10 thoughts on “Greek people celebrate victory of democracy against austerity

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