scott lee

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Referendum in Greece about the Bail out from the EU. Triumph or Failure of Democracy?

The announcement of this referendum was a shock to many. Some say that it is very foolish and that decisive and quick decisions are necessary to deal with the current European financial situation.

On the other hand, many people consider the first round of bail outs to be an affront to democracy (particularly those who are part of the occupy wall street movement). Many were justifiably upset that governments handed billions of dollars to irresponsible corporations with no public input.

The people of Greece deserve a say in what happens in their country. However, is the delay of the decision and the process of a referendum going to be better than decisive action by elected representatives?

What would have happened if countries held referendums about bailouts in 2008? would we have given away as much money, would government action been fast enough?

How far can we take the democratic process?

Is democracy itself, by making governments want to please their people, causing countries to live beyond their means?

I'm particularly interested in hearing from people living in Greece.

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    Nov 4 2011: I don't live in Greece, sorry. But at the heart of this matter is the impotence not only of national governments but of electorates in the face of international finance. Politicians are ham strung in almost every response that they make to the money markets. When politicians threaten to put more governance on the market "confidence" disappears but when the sector needs help it goes to politicians.

    The truth is for Greece is that it is not in control of its financial policy and has not been for 18 months, this is being run from the IMF, Brussels, Berlin and France. This reality is being spelt out to the Greek people in some quarters. The referendum was really about if Greece wanted to play the super-national currency game, simply did it want to be in or out of the euro not whether they accept this or that bail out.
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    Nov 3 2011: isn't it the failure of democracy that a we ask whether a referendum is a failure of democracy? i mean, let us stop to think for a minute. governments represent the people and act for the people. people choose governments in the first place, so it is their decision. normally we would not even want referendums, since the politicians already do what we want, don't they? and in case they are not sure, they always can refer to smaller polls, or can organize public hearings. so referendum is just plain unnecessary and superfluous. but let's say an issue is so controversial, we can't allow for the little error margin of a poll, and we need a full scale referendum. but how could it be in contradiction with the government's will? how could a referendum threaten a country or put it at risk? how could that theoretically happen?

    unless, of course, governments know better than people. put aside the fact that it is not possible, since people chose the government in the first place. but even if so, doesn't it defeat the very idea of democracy if a small ruling elite can override the majority opinion? how do we know that the government knows better? how can we allow the tyranny of a few over many? how can we celebrate it?

    and more to it. why do we want to look after people? if people are indeed unable to take care of themselves... if i say, since it happened for many hundreds of thousands of years, but if somehow they forgot it, still, don't they just deserve to be treated as adults? don't we vindicate the right to decide and to err? don't we think that a human being is responsible for his own life? can we live in a world where an average citizen is said to be unable to understand the surrounding world good enough to survive?

    or we think that we can, but others can't? is this notion acceptable? moral? humane?