Greece to hold national referendum on debt deal

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves the European Council headquarters after a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 26, 2015 (Reuters / Yves Herman)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves the European Council headquarters after a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 26, 2015 (Reuters / Yves Herman)

The Greek PM has announced a national referendum on July 5 on the conditions of the debt deal with international creditors. It’s up to the Greek people, Tsipras said, to make a fateful decision on the country’s sovereignty, independence and future.

“These proposals, which clearly violate the European rules
and the basic rights to work, equality and dignity show that the
purpose of some of the partners and institutions was not a viable
agreement for all parties, but possibly the humiliation of an
entire people,”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in
a televised address to the nation, as cited by Reuters.

The referendum will be held on July 5, a few days past the June
30 deadline, Tsipras announced.

In order to avoid a technical default, Athens will ask for a
short-term extension on the bailout program and buy time to hold
the popular vote. Tsirpas further added that German Chancellor
Angela Merkel and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi have
already been informed of the plans.

The referendum will be a simple “yes” or “no” question on the
measures proposed under the debt deal, local media report. One
way or the other Tsipras said that he will respect the will of
the people, who have voted for him for his anti-austerity
campaign promises.

Considering the public sentiment, the Greeks would likely reject
the terms of the bailout agreement offered by creditors, the PM’s
senior aide, Nikos Pappas, said. Meanwhile, Greece’s development
minister Panagiotis Lafazanis also remains certain that the Greek
will react “with a resounding no.”

The ruling Syriza party urged voters to reject “the ultimatum
by the lenders “
and “say yes to the proposal made by
the government.”
The leader of the Independent Greeks
party, and Tsipras’ junior coalition partner, meanwhile urged the
voters to protect the country’s sovereignty as they did “in
1940 when Greek people decided to say no to foreign

“I call for all of the party to participate in this big
celebration of democracy called a referendum and to vote ‘No’ –
no to handing away our independence,”
Panos Kammenos said.

Greece’s opposition Socialist party was quick to blame the Prime
Minister for an inability to make decisions by himself and
shifting responsibility on the public.

“Since Mr. Tsipras is unable to take responsible decisions,
he ought to resign and let citizens vote for their future via
PASOK’s leader Fofi Genimmata stated.

The Greek opposition leader Antonis Samaras, who says his party
has clearly “sided with democracy and Europe,” has
rejected the idea of referendum.

“Tsipras brought the country to a total deadlock. Between an
unacceptable agreement and a euro exit,”
Samaras said,
claiming the Greeks’ decision will effectively be a “Yes” or “No”
to Europe.

The unconventional move in modern politics to seek public support
or rejection of an unpopular decision comes shortly after Athens
resoundingly rejected the latest conditions its creditors set for
a five-month extension of the bailout program and €15.5bn
($17.3bn) funding.

READ MORE: ‘No mandate or moral right to say
yes’: Greece rejects ‘generous’ EU bailout proposal

According to some reports, the PM also reached out to the ECB
head in order to secure liquidity from the ECB’s side to make it
through the week required to prepare for the referendum. The
Deputy Prime Minister of Greece is meanwhile expected to go to
Frankfurt for talks with the ECB.

The eurozone finance ministers are due to meet in Brussels on
Saturday, as differences continue to hold back an agreement. The
creditors’ demands include pension and VAT reforms, but most of
the disagreements lie over Greek refusals to limit defense
spending cuts, and the privatization of regional airports,
according to negotiators, who spoke to the Guardian.

“The government does not have a popular mandate, nor a moral
right to sign up to a new bailout,”
an anonymous senior
Greek official said just hours before Tsipras announced the

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