It is interesting that the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, summons the very real fact his nation invented democracy to bolster his government’s argument for a favourable solution to the debt crisis wracking its citizens.

As the European Union is a democracy, it should empathise and sympathise with the will of the Greek people who have democratically voted for a government to bring an end to austerity, he says.

As the banks remain shut and Greeks rummage in waste bins to find food, it is hard not to sympathise with the plight of so many living in that beautiful country.

Yet Mr Tsipras is wrong to believe simply banging the drum about democracy will legitimise his situation.

For one thing, holding the EU up as a paragon of democratic virtue is hardly credible. If the Union is anything it is most definitely undemocratic.

But that is not the point of this piece.

Democracy is not a solution in itself, and can all too often become a veneer of respectability for otherwise unpalatable and unwise actions.

Several regimes claim to have a democratic mandate for their actions, the Nazis were a prime example.

The Soviet Union held elections all the time, it’s just that the candidates were hand-picked and the winner a foregone conclusion.

Communist China and present day Russia acts in much the same way.

For the Greeks, the mess they find themselves in now was created by successive governments they voted into place. Democracy brought them inflated unreal pensions, absurd tax-breaks and phoney shadow jobs. Whether those voting in such governments knew this was folly or were fooled by sage-sounding words I cannot say. Either way the stupidity that has led to this crisis came through the ballot box.

Voting for a government that promises to end austerity may have made sense to many, but only if it could pull it off. It must now seem blindingly obvious that no such result was in the gift of any Greek government.

The next twist in this Greek tragedy involves yet more democracy.

Sunday’s referendum on whether Greece should raise taxes and lower pensions to enable it to borrow even more funds from the EU and other creditors, or vote the proposals down and almost certainly leave the euro, is unlikely to solve the crisis.

A ‘yes’ vote will simply pile on more debt which can never be repaid. A ‘no’ decision will probably lead to immediate economic collapse.

Of the two, perhaps the latter would be the better for the Greek people rather than allowing their misery to be prolonged. But that is easy for me to say from the comfort of our own, relatively stable and growing economy.

We can only watch now as Greece teeters towards the cliff edge.