Greek PM urges "No" vote at Sunday's austerity referendum

04 July 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexi Tsipras on Friday made an impassioned plea to voters to vote ''No'' at Sunday's austerity referendum and defeat those who threaten the nation with economic ultimatums.

Addressing supporters before Sunday's referendum on whether Greece should accept creditors' demands for more austerity in return for bailout loans, Tsiparas said, it is not a choice about whether or not to stay in Europe, but a decision about living in Europe "with dignity."

About 25,000 people gathered in the capital's Syntagma Square waving Greek flags and holding banners that read 'No!'. But thousands more are campaigning for Greece to stay within the European Union, as the referendum would separate Greece from the European Monetary Union.

About 10 million Greeks are expected to vote 'Yes' or 'No' on Sunday to more austerity measures that the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) demand in return for bailout funds.

Interestingly, there is no offer of funds on the table and there are no set conditions.

International creditors to Greece had asked for reforms in exchange for extending the country's bailout deal until November.

But negotiations between the government and creditors collapsed last week and the extension was refused and technically the bailout ended on 30 June.

Greeks are therefore being asked to vote on an offer which is no longer on the table.

Voters will be asked whether they approve of the proposal made to Greece by the EU, the IMF and the ECB during the Eurogroup meeting on 25 June. The proposal consists of two documents, titled `Reforms for the completion of the Current Program and Beyond' and `Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis'.

The question will contain two choices: "Those citizens that reject the proposal of the three institutions vote 'Not approved / No' " and "Those citizens that agree with the proposal of the three institutions vote 'Approved/Yes' ".

"Should the deal draft that was put forward by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the Eurogroup of 25 June 2015, and consists of two parts, that together form a unified proposal, be accepted? The first document is titled 'Reforms for the Completion of the Current Programme and Beyond' and the second 'Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis'."

The coalition government, made up of Tsipras's radical left Syriza party and the Independent Greeks (ANEL), backed by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, are campaigning for a 'no' vote.

Tsipras, who broke off from five months of negotiations, surprised his European colleagues on the night of 26-27 June by announcing a referendum. The government has said it believes a 'No' result would strengthen Athens' hand at the negotiating table and ensure it lands "a better deal".

Opposition parties, the centre right New Democracy, the centre-left Pasok and the centre-left To Potami want a 'yes' vote to win.

European leaders have said a 'no' victory would essentially mean Greeks voting to ditch the euro, or at the very least a plunge Greece's relations with the euro zone into the unknown.

A 'yes' victory would be a severe blow to the government and would undermine its legitimacy. Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has already said he will step down if the 'yes' camp wins.

There are 9,855,029 people on the electoral register. Voters will be able to cast their ballots on Sunday in 19,159 polling stations across Greece.

To encourage people to vote, there will be discounts on train and bus tickets as well as domestic flights.

Polling stations will be open from 7am local time (0400 GMT) until 7pm (1600 GMT). The first results are expected around 9pm (1800 GMT).
It depends how close the gap is between 'no' and 'Yes' as to when Tsipras will cry victory -- or concede defeat.

If held (there are no chances of Tsipras opting out of the referendum at this stage) the referendum will be the first in Greece in 41 years. The previous one was held in 1974, when voters abolished the monarchy.

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