Greeks will be given the chance to vote on whether or not their country should continue to heed strict financial demands made by foreign banks and unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
The question to be put before voters is whether or not the country is willing to submit to the conditions being demanded by the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank.
Greece’s radical-left prime minister has announced a snap referendum in a last-ditch attempt to get the country’s European creditors to drop their bailout demands and secure the country’s precarious eurozone future. Alexis Tsipras called the shock vote, to be held on on July 5, having spent Friday night in an emergency meeting with his cabinet.
Speaking to Greek television in a dramatic address in the early hours of Saturday morning, Mr Tsipras said he would support a ‘No’ vote.
“[Our creditors’] 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,” said the prime minister.
“But I personally pledge that I will respect the result of your democratic choice, whatever that may be.”
The leader, who only hours earlier had rejected the proposed reforms after several days of high-stakes talks in Brussels, said Greeks now faced a “historic responsibility” to respond to the ultimatum. The BBC reports he said the reforms were “blackmail for the acceptance on our part of severe and humiliating austerity without end and without the prospect of ever prospering socially and economically”.
Describing the plebiscite as a “historic decision”, Tsipras said he had informed the leaders of France, Germany and Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank about the decision. “I asked them to extend our current bailout by a few days so this democratic process could take place,” he said.
Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said it was time for the people to decide the country’s fate inside the single currency.
Konstantinos Chrysogonos, a Syriza MEP, told BBC 2’s Newsnight: “It’s obvious that the deal creditors are proposing to the Greek government is beyond the popular mandate this government has.”
He added: “There was probably no other way but to submit the demands of the creditors to a referendum.”
The Guardian reports Greeks have been rushing their banks to withdraw what cash they have before the vote. Panic-stricken depositors, worried that capital controls may only be hours away, rushed to ATMs to withdraw savings. Queues quickly formed outside banks around the capital.
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