By Carlos A. Quiroga
Less than two weeks ago Greece said «no» decisively to austerity measures in a referendum in which the majority followed the radical rhetoric of the country’s leader, Alexis Tsipras.
Amid echoes of that cry, there are still anti-austerity demonstrations in Athens.
While the «no» is still technically valid, it would seem that those for whom it was intended did not heed it.
The greek parliament approved on Thursday a new round of economic reforms which embody the exact opposite of the vote in the referendum.
The people’s demands did not help Tsipras, who ended up making concessions to creditors and other European leaders who ignored the referendum and imposed harsh austerity measures threatening to turn Greece into an isolated player in the global community, one incapable of covering its pressing expenses and large debt.
In exchange for these new austerity measures, Greece will receive yet another bailout, the third in five years, without which it could not survive long.
It is a pragmatic and urgent agreement, which includes a raise in VAT and pension cuts, precisely the two most unpopular measures among the Greeks.
«We had a clear choice: A deal with which we disagree, or a chaotic default on debt,» argued Tsipras as he urged the Greek parliament to approve the reforms, having to scale back his fiery anti-austerity rhetoric.
Three quarters of parliament approved the new measures. Among those who oppose them is former Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, chief supporter of the «no». Varoufakis resigned the day after the referendum.
It is a matter of hours or days before Greece returns to economic normality. It remains unclear if it will be able to return to political stability.