Dimopsifisma—literally “people-vote”—is one of those wonderfully direct Greek words that make me smile in appreciation of the beauty of the modern Greek language. If only the referendum (dimopsifisma) that Greeks are supposed to vote on this Sunday were as straightforward as the word. (My favorite Greek word of this sort of construction is anakatevo—literally to “up-down” something or to mix it up. But I didn’t sit down to write about fun language tidbits today in the midst of Greece’s turmoil. Another day for that.)
Events are changing so fast this week that by the time you read this, everything I write will probably be superseded by new developments. But to summarize the situation at the present moment:
- A referendum is to be held on Sunday in which the Greeks will vote Yes or No on an agreement with the “Troika” on a package of reforms. Or they may not. Press reports today say that the Greek government may cancel the referendum, a possibility raised last night by finance minister Varoufakis.
- But cancelling the referendum is constitutionally impossible, according to Greek parliament president Zoe Konstantopoulou now that the House has already voted for it to be held.
- If the referendum is held it will be a vote on whether to stay in the Euro or not. Or it isn’t a vote on the Euro at all (see previous blog post on this.)
- The governing Syriza party adamantly refuses to accept another humiliating austerity package, as was proposed as the Eurogroup’s final offer. Or, they may. PM Tsipras sent a letter last night to the Eurogroup agreeing to the full package of reforms proposed in that final offer with minor revisions.
- With this letter, the Greek government has “capitulated” to creditors’ demands, in the words of press accounts this morning. Or they have not capitulated at all, but have suggested key revisions and are working towards a “mutually beneficial agreement,” in the words of the Greek government this morning.
- The door is still open for negotiations, according to statements by Merkel, Junker and others. Or it has been firmly shut, in the words of those same leaders and, especially, German Finance Minister Scheuble, who seems to take particular delight in rubbing the Greeks’ nose in it whenever he has the opportunity. His response to the latest Greek overtures is the same irritatingly schoolmarm-ish “If you had just behaved like good little boys and girls in the past and done what we told you to do, we wouldn’t have this little problem now, would we? So I’m not even going to deign to talk to you.”
- The referendum is in accordance with the Greek constitution and is a critically important part of the true democratic process, according to the government. Except that it is unconstitutional according to the Greek national Bar Association.
So, it’s all clear, right? Clear as mud, as they like to say in the old South…