GREEK REFERENDUM: How Should Today Work?


Greece’s referendum day is upon us. After five long months of bitter debate with creditors and one quick week of frantic campaigning, the Greeks are now voting. Up until the close of campaigning the left-wing government urged voters to reject the bailout deal that had been offered, but EU leaders say the creditors’ proposal has expired.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the vote is not about Greek membership of the EU or eurozone, but a chance for the people to say whether they are willing to bear continued austerity being demanded by creditors. Either way the outcome is going to have global ramifications.

In order for you to follow events, the mechanics of the referendum, expected to cost 20 million euros. are as follow:

When do polls close?

Voting booths in 56 districts opened at 7 a.m. Greek time (5am London time, midnight EDT) and will remain open for at least 12 hours. Polls are therefore expected to close at 7pm local time (5pm London, midday EDT). Some are speculating that the timing may slip, however, due to an expectedly high turnout (see below) and the long summer daylight hours

What are people being asked?

The question posed on the ballot paper is far from simple.

“Should the agreement plan that the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund submitted to the June 25 Eurogroup meeting, comprising two parts that form their comprehensive proposal, be accepted?

“The first part is titled ‘Reforms for the completion of the current programme and beyond’ and the second part is titled ‘Preliminary debt sustainability analysis.”

Greeks rejecting the proposal of the three institutions vote ‘Not approved/No’ and those agreeing vote ‘Approved/Yes’. Although that can be boiled down to “Do you agree with the bailout terms handed to Greece on 25 June?” it is still not that simple.

Sky News economics editor Ed Conway reports:

“The bailout terms were extraordinarily long and abstruse, with ten sections, each with multiple sub-sections and clauses, all in complicated economese.

“Even assuming every Greek citizen would read and understand these terms (and bear in mind most economists I’ve spoken to haven’t) there’s another bigger issue: the bailout proposal itself is no longer valid, having been taken off the table and replaced with a new one a few days later.

“Even that updated offer is no longer available since the bailout expired last Tuesday.

“In the event of a Yes vote, it’s not clear that the old bailout could be exhumed. In fact, the other European finance ministers have said that now it’s expired Greece would have to seek a whole new, third bailout. That would take even more time to negotiate.”

Turnout and validity

For the referendum to be valid under the terms set by the Greek government, at least 40 per cent of the country’s 9,855,029 registered voters must participate. Reuters reported that in a survey by the ProRata institute conducted between the 28th and 30th June, 86 per cent of respondents said they planned to vote.

Opinion Polls

No opinion polls on the referendum, or indeed any other political, economic or social issues, are allowed to be published from the day before the vote until the close of voting on Sunday evening when the first exit polls will be seen.

The Financial Times reports that a knife-edge result is predicted, with voters narrowly favouring the Greek government’s call for a No vote, claiming to have seen an unpublished poll suggesting that between 51 and 53 per cent of voters would back No.

Official result announcement

The earliest time the official result is expected is at around 9 p.m. Greek time (7pm London, 2pm EDT), however that very much depends on an efficient voting process.

The Economist reports “because the referendum is unprecedented and anxieties over voting fraud or failure to follow proper procedures are rife, final results will probably not be announced until late on Sunday evening.”

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