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Greek Pop Star Defies Leftist Government, Urges ‘Yes’ Vote on EU Referendum

As the ruling Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) vocally demands the Greek people vote “no” on a referendum regarding European Union debt repayment terms on Sunday, an unlikely voice has emerged representing the opposition “yes” vote, interpreted as a vote in favor of keeping the Euro as currency and remaining in the Euro: electro-pop megastar Sakis Rouvas.

Rouvas, who has dominated the Greek music scene for the better of two decades, has posted numerous statements on his Facebook account defying the Greek government, urging his fans to vote “yes” to accepting EU terms. Amid promotional material for his new ballad, “Fila Me” (“Kiss Me”), Rouvas is penning posts suggesting, “There is not only a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to divide us, but an deafening YES from the everyday Greeks who will redeems us”– a barb at politicians seeking to divide Greeks from Europe and, more importantly, from each other.

While several of his handwritten posts did not make clear where he stood politically on the “yes” or “no” question, a video published on July 3 places the musical artist strongly in the “yes” column: a vote in favor of accepting the terms of the European union and remaining within the Euro, and against the ruling leftist party of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“Why must we remain divided?” Rouvas asks, noting plainly the difficulty of answering the referendum honestly by pointing out that the question asked of Greeks is obsolete. The text of the referendum tomorrow will read:

Should the plan of agreement, which was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the Eurogroup of 25.06.2015 and is comprised of two parts that constitute their unified proposal be accepted?

That plan has already been withdrawn by the European Union, which means it is no longer up to the Greeks to answer, and it is not entirely clear what a “yes” or “no” vote will mean, other than that the Syriza government is adamantly demanding a “no,” so a “yes” can be interpreted as a rejection of the leftist party.

“Why must I answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a question that no longer exists and has been withdrawn?” Rouvas asks, adding, “Why can’t I want to say yes to Europe but no to the austerity proposed in the European proposals?”

“Why must I be bullied every time I express this opinion?” he adds, perhaps a reply to the dramatic speeches by Prime Minister Tsipras this week in which he claimed those voting “yes” would be accepting ‘ultimatums, blackmail, and fear,” and urged Greeks to vote “no” “with all the might of your soul.” “By voting no,” Rouvas contends, “we are losing our natural and only allies in the area who share our ideas and values for humanity.”

He concludes urging a “yes” vote, because “I have three children, and I am thinking not only of myself and today’s situation, but the future.”

The video is titled “We are ‘Yes’, We are Europe.”

While Syriza and its leader Tsipras, dubbed by some media the “Greek Che Guevara,” found vocal support from leftists in UK and US popular culture such has Hugh Laurie and Oliver Stone, the Greek celebrity world has been much less receptive to the extreme leftist policies of his party.

Rouvas is a major musical presence in Greece. He represented Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004 and 2009, and hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, following Greece’s victory the year before. He is the winningest artist at the MAD Video Music Awards, the Greek equivalent of the MTV VMAs, with 17 awards.

The latest polls from Greece show the vote extremely close, with “Yes” currently winning against “No.” Thousands have hit the streets to support both sides of the referendum, with “Yes” being interpreted as a rejection of the “drachma” currency and the Syriza party. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who called European Union leaders “terrorists” on Saturday, claimed the Syriza government “may very well” resign should “Yes” win.

Greek video translation by Lysandros Mitsotakis.

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