The outcome of the Greek referendum considerably exceeded the expectations of the SYRIZA-led coalition government that called it, as well as most observers. They were painted into a corner by their own conciliation of the neo-liberal leaders of Europe, faced with their humiliating ‘offer’ of a bailout in demand for further massive cuts in pensions and social benefits. The SYRIZA government was faced with what in effect was an attempt to force a recently-elected government out of office; Alexis Tsipras turned to the Greek working-class masses and asked for their backing.
Their courage in resisting the demands of the Troika far exceeds that of their left-reformist leadership. This was shown by the immediate aftermath of the 61% landslide victory of the ‘OXI’ (no) side, despite the NAI (yes) side having the backing of the entire privately-owned news media, with an avalanche of mendacious propaganda and disinformation. The no vote took place in the context of international blackmail, and the squeezing of Greek finances which has led to the closure of banks and a limit of €60 per day on withdrawals from ATMs, on top of the years of ‘financial waterboarding’ austerity and the severe impoverishment of much of the Greek population. This heroic defiance takes place in economic siege conditions whose clear aim is ‘regime change’. But in this case it backfired.