The Greek government has stepped up its campaign for a “no” vote in Sunday’s bailout referendum as polls suggest the “yes” camp is leading, Sky News reports. In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said a “no” vote would not push Greece out of the eurozone, but rather win a better bailout deal. “There are those who insist on linking the result of the referendum with the country’s future in the euro,” he said.
“They even say I have a so-called secret plan to take the country out of the EU if the vote is “no”. They are lying with the full knowledge of that fact. “No means powerful pressure for a financial agreement that will give a solution to the debt … an agreement that is socially just.” Hours earlier, he had said he was willing to accept the latest offer with several revisions but the prospect of negotiations was later ruled out.
Eurozone finance ministers agreed to wait for the result of the referendum before holding any more talks. “We see no grounds for further talks at this point,” said eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The Greek finance minister raised the stakes on Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg. Yanis Varoufakis said: “I would prefer to cut my arm off” than sign a deal which did not include debt restructuring.
He added that he would resign if the majority of people in the referendum decided to support the creditors’ proposals for deep structural reform in return for more bailout money. A senior government source also told Sky News that success for the ‘Yes’ camp would likely prompt the resignation of Mr Tsipras, the formation of a ‘national unity’ government and elections in September.
The latest GPO poll of Greeks put support for the bailout at 47.1% against opposition of 43.2% – with the rest either undecided or planning not to vote. The Syriza government argues it is possible to raise more taxes on the rich, limit austerity for the poor and stay within the Euro. Sky’s Robert Nisbet, in Athens, said the administration believes Greece will never be able to return to growth until it receives help with managing the national debt of €320bn which, at 180% of economic output, is the highest in the EU.
Greece also wants to keep a reduced level of VAT for its islands, reduce the size of cuts to its military budget and delay the phasing out of a supplement for some retired people. Mr Tsipras previously rejected conditions that the creditors wanted Greece to meet in exchange for further bailouts. Germany, the largest single contributor to Greece’s bailout, said the proposal was not good enough.
Polls suggest the “yes” camp is gaining ground as Greeks face the reality of queuing up outside cash points for €60 daily.