greece celebrates no oxi vote Kostas Pikoulas/ZumaPress

Greece’s Vote for Sovereignty

When the Greeks voted “no” in the July 5 referendum they asserted the priority of their democracy over those in other eurozone countries. If the Greek vote is a victory for anything, it is a victory for national sovereignty.

CAMBRIDGE – Creditors and debtors have found themselves at odds for as long as money has changed hands. But rarely have the issues been framed as starkly – and in such a public manner – as in the just completed Greek referendum.

In a vote on July 5, the Greek electorate resoundingly rejected demands for further austerity by the country’s foreign creditors: the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the other eurozone governments, led by Germany. Whatever the economic merits of the decision, the Greek people’s voice rang loud and clear: We are not going to take it anymore.

It would be a mistake, however, to view the vote in Greece as a straightforward victory for democracy – despite what the country’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, and his supporters like to claim. What the Greeks call democracy comes across in many other – equally democratic – countries as irresponsible unilateralism. There is, in fact, little sympathy for the Greek position in other eurozone countries, where similar referendums would undoubtedly show overwhelming public support for the continuation of the austerity policies imposed on Greece.