Indyref2: A bold but unsurprising move from Nicola Sturgeon

nicola sturgeonIn a speech on 13 March, Nicola Sturgeon outlined her intention to call a second Scottish independence referendum. Paul Anderson, Canterbury Christ Church University, writes that while the announcement was not surprising given recent speculation, it was nevertheless a bold move on the part of Sturgeon. Only time will tell, however, whether she will be remembered as the First Minister who presided over the independence of Scotland or the leader who got it spectacularly wrong. Note: This article first appeared on the LSE EUROPP blog and is reposted here with permission.

Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she is to seek a second independence referendum to be held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 is a bold but unsurprising move from the Scottish First Minister. She has spelled out that first she will seek the approval of the Scottish Parliament which, with a majority of pro-independence MSPs (the SNP and Greens), should prove no obstacle.

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Greece, the EU, and the Democratic Conundrum

In this post, Nicola Countouris, Reader at the UCL Faculty of Laws, analyses the reasons why the Greeks may have rejected the creditor institutions’ economic and reform proposals. Arguing that frustration is not the only explanation for Tsipras’  win at the ballot box, and recognising the daunting challenge that lie ahead of the 19 Eurozone democracies, he argues that Europe’s constitutional envelope can be spacious enough to accommodate different versions of democratic economic and human aspirations.

For the second time in six months the Greeks have voted for a political project (which many have and will continue to describe as a ‘political adventure’) that runs against the grain of the unanimous expectations and imperatives of the EU institutions, the IMF, and the bulk of both centre-right and centre-left European governments. Against the odds, against the economic and reform instructions imparted by the lending institutions, and – many will say – against their best interest, the Greeks have refused to conform, and have flatly rejected on two occasions now, the politics of austerity.

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YES, for our Dignity

In this post, Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations at Oxford, and Othon Anastasakis, Director of the European Studies Centre, St Antony’s College Oxford, explain how a ‘yes’ vote in tomorrow’s Greek referendum is a choice for dignity rather than fear, as canvassed by the No campaign.

The SYRIZA government claims that a No vote in the referendum is about dignity. A Greece that can say no, no matter the consequences. A Greece that can at last resist creditors’ demands, just as its national heroes of yesterdays resisted the Italian and Nazi invasions.  For many Greeks, – supporters of SYRIZA-ANEL-Golden Dawn – today’s no echoes the OXI in 1940 spelled out with trees on the hillside of Epirus for the advancing enemies to behold. Seventy five years later, they think that will show the world that they can still take the heroic stance.   Against such a no, according to them, the YESes are the cowards, those who accept to be bullied and blackmailed, the German collaborators. In this simple world view, YES means fear. No means pride.

What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong with the “dignified” No? Continue reading

Say ‘yes’ to Europe: A response to Joseph Stiglitz’s ‘How I would vote in the Greek referendum’

Joseph Stiglitz’s influential call on the Greeks to vote ‘no’ in Sunday’s referendum has received attention from all corners of the globe. In this response, Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni and Philip Schnattinger, critically analyse Stiglitz’s arguments and put forward an argument for a ‘yes’ vote.

Joseph Stiglitz’s call on the Greeks to vote ‘no’ in Sunday’s referendum has received broad international publicity and has given an enormous boost to the ‘no’ campaign in Greece. Yet many of his arguments about both economics and politics are at best one-sided.

Stiglitz talks a lot about the Eurozone’s democratic flaws. Indeed, many of us have participated in discussions about the European Union’s democratic deficit in the past, and there is no doubt that there are ways in which the Eurozone’s democratic credentials can be improved.

But the Eurogroup’s decision not to extend the economic adjustment programme beyond its expiry date was not an example of anti-democratic behaviour by European technocrats. On 20 February, the Greek government agreed to the extension of the programme which was due to expire on 30 June. It has been publically known for five months that without another agreement by the end of June, Europe’s money to Greece would run out. We all knew that this would include the end of the ECB’s emergency liquidity programme, which had already been increased in size several times to keep the Greek banking sector afloat.

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Greece: Voting for or against Europe

In this post, Pavlos Eleftheriadis, Associate Professor of Law and a Fellow of Mansfield College at the University of Oxford and a spokesman on EU affairs for the Greek political party ‘To Potami’, argues that a vote in the Greek referendum on Sunday will be a choice for or against Europe.

The Greek referendum is a choice for or against Europe, for the drachma or the Euro, a choice between isolation or engagement with Europe. It is also a vote of confidence, or not, for the new government.

A ‘no’ vote, which the government of Syriza and the Independent Greeks propose, will begin a process of gradual disengagement from the Eurozone and possibly from the EU. A ‘yes’ vote, on the other hand, will be a spectacular defeat for the government, which only a few weeks ago had an approval rating of 60 or 70 per cent. It will also be a powerful statement of intent of the Greek people for staying the course of painful reform, which began in 2010 and has seen the largest fiscal consolidation in history and a drop of 25 per cent in GDP.

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