Demagogery by Tsipras and Syriza leads Greeks into the abyss

dem•a•gogue or dem•a•gog /ˈdɛməˌgɑg, -ˌgɔg/

a political leader who gains power by arousing people’s emotions and prejudices.
dem•a•gog•ic/ˌdɛməˈgɑgɪk, -ˈgɑdʒ-/adj.

dem•a•gogu•er•y, dem•a•go•gy /ˈdɛməˌgoʊdʒi, -ˌgɑdʒi/n.

–WordReference Random House Learner’s Dictionary of American English © 2015

(2) demagogue, sometimes us demagog /ˈdɛməˌɡɒɡ/

a political agitator who appeals with crude oratory to the prejudice and passions of the mob
(esp in the ancient world) any popular political leader or orator
Etymology: 17th Century: from Greek dēmagōgos people’s leader, from dēmos people + agein to lead

‘demagogue’ also found in these entries:
-agogue – Cleon – ˌdemaˈgogic – demagoguery – demagogy – rabble-rouser

–Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers ‘m ,m,,n

What can be said after all of the negotiations between Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza-led government with European leaders and the IMF?

Some things must be said.

Tsipras and his government have repeatedly negotiated in bad faith, demonstrated most dramatically by Tsipras’ acceptance of almost all of the creditors’ terms earlier in the week, followed by his abrupt breaking off of the negotiations on Friday, his return to Athens, and his television address at 1:00 a.m later that evening calling for a referendum on July 5.

Since then, after drafting a highly confusing text for the referendum, he and his Finance Minister Yanus Varoufakis, and members of his government and party have conducted a highly misleading and vociferous campaign for a “No” vote, which asks the Greek people to approve or reject the last offer of the creditors, which has since been withdrawn.  In short, they are being asked to vote on an offer which does not exist.

He and Varoufakis have repeatedly reassured voters that a “No” vote will not mean a Greek exit (or “Grexit”) from the Euro zone. They have asserted, as a certainty, that a “No” vote will strengthen Greece’s bargaining position with the creditors, and that the latter will within days sign an agreement that is much more favorable to Greece than their last offer.

In making these assertions, he and his allies have completely ignored what the European leaders and the IMF have declared, repeatedly. The existing financial agreement expired on June 30, when it was not renewed and Greece missed a € 1.5 million repayment to the IMF also due on that day.

It is utterly demagogic for Tsipras, Varoufakis, Syriza and their allies to state categorically that the vote is not about staying in the Euro Zone, when it is patently obvious that that is indeed what the referendum is about.

European leaders and the IMF officials went to great lengths to reach an agreement with Greece in the last few weeks, within the institutional frameworks and governmental decision processes within which they are obliged to operate.

It is simply beyond the realm of possibilty to think the creditors could agree to a debt restructuring that forgives or writes down a significant part of the Greek debt within the last few weeks of the final negotiations before the June 30 deadline, however desirable and necessary such measures may be.

To be sure, the austerity imposed on Greece over the last five years may in retrospect appear to have been excessive and self-defeating.

Tsipras and Varoufakis seemed not to understand that debt arrangements cannot be created out of thin air. For months they delayed the serious technical work that would be required to reach any such agreements.

But in the end, in their decision to hold the referendum and with the bald lies they have been telling the Greek people to get them to vote “No” on Sunday, they have resorted to the worst form of demagoguery.

They have lost the trust of the creditors.

If the “No” votes carry the day on Sunday, Greece is likely to experience a financial collapse from which it will take years if not decades to recover.  The European Central Bank will find it  increasingly difficult to continue to supply an economic support line of credit to Greek banks, even under current limits. Cross-default provisions in many debt agreements will kick in once Greece’s bankrupt status becomes official.

If the “YES” vote wins, we can expect more drama as either the Tsipras government resigns and a new national unity government is formed, or  Tsipras tries to survive as prime minister by putting together a new coalition.

The problem with the latter possibility, or couse, is that Tsipras has utterly lost the trust of the creditors and the European leaders. Even if he were to agree to their terms for a new debt package, he would have a very hard time convincing the Europeans and the IMF that he would carry out his part of the bargain in good faith.

In these circumstances, new elections may need to be called soon, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Sunday.

It is unfortunate that a demagogic leader like Tsipras has through emotional appeals led the Greek people down the path to ruin. His emotional appeals are his only hope for a “victory” which, even if achieved in the referendum, will only hasten Greece’s economic collapse.

A cooler analytic approach would lead voters to conclude that a “No” vote would be pure folly.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.