Greeks divided on Sunday’s bailout referendum

A poll of Greeks likely to vote in Sunday’s referendum on a European bailout proposal indicated they are nearly evenly divided between an up or down vote.

The poll of 1,000 people conducted by the ALCO company for the To Ethos newspaper June 30 and July 1 indicated 44.8 percent of respondents said they would vote “yes” on the bailout terms, while 43.4 percent would vote “no” and 11.8 percent are undecided.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is campaigning for a “no” vote, saying it will give Greece more bargaining power in future negotiations with its European creditors.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said in a televised interview this week that if voters accept the EU creditors’ bailout proposal, the government “may very well” quit and he “will not” be finance minister by Monday.

Eurozone vote

European leaders have warned that a “no” vote in the referendum would amount to Greece becoming the first country to leave the 19-nation eurozone during the common currency’s 16-year history.

Speaking to reporters Friday in Luxembourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that a ‘no’ vote in Sunday’s referendum means that Greece’s position will be “dramatically weakened.”

“The program has come to an end, there are no negotiations under way, if the Greeks will vote ‘no’, they have done everything but strengthening the Greek negotiation position. The Greek negotiation position will be dramatically weakened by a ‘no’ vote,” Juncker said.

Luxembourg has just assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union for the next six months.

Supporters of the “yes” vote — meaning Greece accepts creditors’ proposals for more austerity measures in exchange for more loans — say the referendum amounts to a vote on whether Greece wants to stay in the Eurozone.

Meanwhile, Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, is expected to decide on Friday on a motion filed by two private citizens asking the court to rule Sunday’s referendum illegal.

A separate group filed a counter-motion supporting the referendum’s legality.

Financial plight

Thursday brought more bad news for Greece, as the International Monetary Fund announced that Greece’s financial plight is even worse than it first thought.

The IMF largely blamed the leftist government of Prime Minister Tsipras, saying that it has been slow to sell off state assets and will need debt relief and another $56 billion in new bailout loans through 2018.

The IMF said that four years ago it had predicted that Athens would raise $55 billion by privatizing government properties through the end of this year, but so far the government has only collected $3.5 billion.

Greece is cut off from further European aid, after failing Tuesday to meet a midnight deadline for repaying $1.8 billion owed the IMF. That default marked the first time a developed country has not met a payment deadline on an IMF loan.


(Photo of Athens: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)