'No to Austerity': Tens of Thousands Back Syriza at Rally in Athens
Tens of thousands gathered in Athens on Monday night, adding their voices to the ranks of the Syriza government officials and international observers who are urging Greek citizens to act boldly and reject the terms of an aid deal offered by Greece’s austerity-loving international creditors.
While numerous governments and financial institutions warned Monday that the referendum vote could determine whether or not Greece stays in the Eurozone, other critical implications loom.
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A ‘No’ vote would be a clear rejection of austerity measures as well as other regressive and punitive policies being foisted on Greece by the so-called Troika.
On the other hand, notes Reuters, “a ‘Yes’ vote would pile pressure on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to resign—given his adamant resistance to opening the door to new elections and possibly a return to the negotiating table with creditors.”
In fact, getting Tsipras out of the way appears to be a major goal of the European leaders and lenders, economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote on Monday.
“After all, it is extremely inconvenient to have in Greece a government that is so opposed to the types of policies that have done so much to increase inequality in so many advanced countries, and that is so committed to curbing the unbridled power of wealth,” Stiglitz argued. “They seem to believe that they can eventually bring down the Greek government by bullying it into accepting an agreement that contravenes its mandate.”
In an interview on Monday with Greece’s ERT TV, Tsipras said a robust ‘No’ vote would give the Syriza-led government a mandate and leverage to seek a better deal. “We’re asking you to reject it with all our strength,” he said.
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Those who took to the streets in Athens on Monday night were largely in the anti-austerity camp. According to Reuters, “at least 20,000 defiant supporters of Alexis Tsipras’ left-wing government packed the main avenue in front of parliament,” many carrying banners that declared simply “No!” while others read, “Our lives do not belong to the lenders” and “Don’t back down”.
Their calls were supported on Monday by a letter penned by a number of international academics, including former Archibishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Slavoj Zizek, and Judith Butler, expressing solidarity with those who would vote ‘No’ in the referendum. Published at the Guardian, it read:
Meanwhile, solidarity actions took place in London and elsewhere, with Andrew Burgin from the UK’s Greece Solidarity Campaign telling London 24: “We are coming together today to stand with the people of Greece and say: no to austerity, yes to democracy.”
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