Trusting Democracy

The Greek PM wants to take an austerity plan to the people in a referendum. This morning, his top cabinet ministers are fighting him. The Europeans are incredulous. G20 members are impatient. So .. what is the role of democracy when the going gets tough? Does so-called direct democracy empower governments or enfeeble them?

Part Two of The Current

Trusting Democracy - Theodore Tolias / Costas Panayotakis

As you've been hearing in the news, it's a roller coaster in Greece today with a cabinet revolt ... people in the streets and leaders of the Eurozone who are incredulous.

Earlier this week, after a few days of relative calm, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou dropped a political grenade. He called for a referendum on the package of bail-outs and austerity measures intended to keep the Greek Government out of default ... a package the rest of the world thought he had already accepted.

Mr. Papandreou says the referendum is "the highest form of democracy" and that "it's a great moment of patriotism for the citizens to decide." His critics say he's deflecting criticism and dodging responsibility for a politically painful decision. His finance minister has broken ranks throwing more uncertainty into the mix.

There are many critics of the referendum plan. Even in Canada, there is division. Canada's finance minister says the vote could threaten the world economic recovery. Whereas, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney supports the referendum.

So to debate the value of the referendum, we were joined by Theodore Tolias, professor of Economics and International Business at York University's Schulich School of Business and President of the Hellenic Canadian Academic Association of Ontario. He is in Toronto. Costas Panayotakis is the author of Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy and an Associate Professor of Sociology at the New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York. He was in New York.

Trusting Democracy - André Blais

André Blais is a professor of political science at the Université de Montréal. Among other things, he focuses his research on referenda and other forms of direct democracy. André Blais was in Montreal.

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