There’s an echo in Syriza’s presentation of the options to the Greek people in the SNP’s approach to the independence referendum in September 2014.
The SNP campaigned promising a plan A of keeping Sterling, (because they knew the Scots were afraid of the unknown alternatives), yet having full sovereignty over fiscal policy. All other UK parties announced that this would not be conceded.
The SNP revealed no plan B, on the basis that they insisted it would be in the interests of the Rest of UK [RUK] to grant continued membership. This was a pretty astonishing claim. Given the unfolding of the Eurozone crisis, caused by a combination of independent fiscal policies and a common monetary policy, just what the SNP were asking for, it is pretty plausible that the RUK parties claim that Sterling membership would not be on offer was real, and not a ploy.
So Syriza are campaigning promising Euro membership, which they know is popular in Greece, safe deposits, but a rejection of terms offered by the creditors. Yet without the creditors (probably even with them) deposits are nothing like safe. And without the creditors, the governments’ financing needs cannot be met any other way than either starving those dependent on the public sector, and many others, or printing their own currency. Syriza are offering something it is not in their power to offer, because the creditors won’t agree to it.
Just like with the SNP, Syriza try to portray their own demands as in the interests of the creditors themselves. And they have done this month after month in spite of the creditors’ resistance. And in spite of the fears of contagion on which Syriza’s argument that giving in is wise for the creditors depends, not being realised. Just as with the SNP, Syriza reveal no plan B in case their demands are not met. Just as in the indyref, therefore, voters can’t gauge the benefits of supporting their representatives in pursuit of plan A, since they don’t know what they will actually get by pursuing it.
A genuine vote in the independence referendum depended on the Scots seeing through the SNPs rhetoric on complex matters of macro and finance. Who knows whether they did or not. Likewise, a genuine vote on Sunday depends on the Greeks understanding the likely consequences of a yes or a no.
As I watch events unfold, it’s particularly sad to see the emphasis placed by Syriza on the referendum being the ultimate expression of democracy. When the consequences of the different votes are not explained properly, and in fact are actively concealed, the vote can’t be said to be an informed one. That is a very poor expression of democracy from its inventors.