Instead they were confronted with a text from the creditors that upped the ante, demanding a rise in VAT on tourist hotels from 7pc (de facto) to 23pc at a single stroke.
Creditors insisted on further pension cuts of 1pc of GDP by next year and a phase out of welfare assistance (EKAS) for poorer pensioners, even though pensions have already been cut by 44pc.
They insisted on fiscal tightening equal to 2pc of GDP in an economy reeling from six years of depression and devastating hysteresis. They offered no debt relief. The Europeans intervened behind the scenes to suppress a report by the International Monetary Fund validating Greece’s claim that its debt is “unsustainable”. The IMF concluded that the country not only needs a 30pc haircut to restore viability, but also €52bn of fresh money to claw its way out of crisis.
They rejected Greek plans to work with the OECD on market reforms, and with the International Labour Organisation on collective bargaining laws. They stuck rigidly to their script, refusing to recognise in any way that their own Dickensian prescriptions have been discredited by economists from across the world.
“They just didn’t want us to sign. They had already decided to push us out,” said the now-departed finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
So Syriza called the referendum. To their consternation, they won, igniting the great Greek revolt of 2015, the moment when the people finally issued a primal scream, daubed their war paint, and formed the hoplite phalanx.
Mr Tsipras is now trapped by his success. “The referendum has its own dynamic. People will revolt if he comes back from Brussels with a shoddy compromise,” said Costas Lapavitsas, a Syriza MP.
“Tsipras doesn’t want to take the path of Grexit, but I think he realizes that this is now what lies straight ahead of