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Greece is the cradle of democracy, but as the world has seen recently, a financial crisis is no time to put important questions to the people. Prime Minister George Papandreou’s proposed referendum on the country’s loan deal with the European Union, called off quickly after intense international opposition, illustrated that perfectly.

Plato and Aristotle would have approved of dropping the referendum. They didn’t like democracy of the direct kind. Neither trusted the people that much.

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