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Greece votes in bailout referendum

Greece has taken to the polls on Sunday in a referendum that may determine the future of its currency.

The referendum was called by the Greek government as a result of disagreement on the bailout conditions between Greece and its creditors. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called the referendum a “celebration of democracy”. “No one can ignore the will of a people”, he said after casting his own vote on Sunday.

 

The ballot paper asks Greeks the following question, followed by explanations:

“Must the agreement plan submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the Eurogroup of 25 June, 2015, and comprised of two parts which make up their joint proposal, be accepted?”

Voters can answer with “yes” or “no”.

Greece is strongly divided on the issue. An Ipsos poll earlier this week has estimated the “yes” voters at 44%, the “no” at 43%, with 12% still undecided.

Prime Minister Tsipras has urged for a “proud” no-vote. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has told the Spanish Newspaper El Mundo that the methods and conditions set by the creditors caused fear among the Greek people, amounting to “terrorism”.

The conditions for further bailout by European creditors include harsher austerity measures, which Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party strongly opposes. In case of a “yes”-decision, the future of Syriza in government is uncertain. Tsipras has threatened to resign.

The future of Greece’s membership in the Eurozone, too, is at stake in this vote. If Greece does not accept the bailout conditions, the Eurogroup may consider it impossible to keep the country in the currency group.

German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble said that even if this were the case, Greece’s exit from the Eurozone may only be temporary, the BBC reports.

Tsipras’ government does not wish to exit the Eurozone, but with nearly a third of the country living below the poverty line and a quarter of the population unemployed, the Syriza party does not see the solution in more cuts to public spending.

First results are expected on Sunday evening. Nearly 10 million Greeks are eligible to vote.

 

Critics of harsh bailout conditions fear implications for other indebted countries, such as Portugal, Spain or Italy (Caricature by Latuff2)

Critics of harsh bailout conditions fear implications for other indebted countries, such as Portugal, Spain or Italy (Caricature by Latuff2)

See also: Crowdfunding Greece’s debts?

Elisabeth Brahier

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