Greece sails through uncharted waters: Parliament approves referendum


With 178 votes “for” and 120 “against”, the Greek Parliament gave green light to the proposal for a referendum on the austerity measures of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. MPs of SYRIZA, Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn voted for the referendum, while all other opposition parties, i.e. River, New Democracy, PASOK and the Communist Party, were against the idea on the people to decide on the European financial package on 5th of July.

Voting finished around 3 am, and was preceded by a stormy debate in a tense climate between government and opposition MPs, requested the idea of a referendum to be dismissed as irresponsible and announce elections immediately. In a last attempt to prevent the referendum, opposition leader Antonis Samaras is scheduled to meet with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who comes from the ranks of New Democracy, and will ask from him to do everything he can to avoid a referendum, i.e. not to sign presidential call for a referendum to prevent endangering Greece’s European future.

Greek analysts, politicians and the media raise the question of the constitutionality of the referendum in just one week, noting that it takes much more time, i.e. almost a month, as well as for organizing parliamentary elections.

According to the newspaper “Kathimerini”, the referendum would cost the state about 110 million euros, additional cost that will burden the state budget in these times of financial uncertainty for Greece. Among all citizens, there is great fear and anticipation of what the new week will bring, given the financial aid for Greece expires on 2nd of July, and the messages from the European and the international community are not very encouraging.

The head of the IMF Christine Lagarde sent a message to the Greek government is still not too late to change their opinion and return to negotiations. She noted that the referendum would be on invalid proposals because if negotiations remain suspended, as of Tuesday, when financial program for Greece expires, all European proposals would essentially be void and non-existent.

Citizens continue to withdraw money from banks, empty supermarkets and fill spare petrol, not knowing what will happen to them and the state. With the announcement of a referendum, the state and citizens went into uncharted waters, where the only solution and outcome is considered to be state bankruptcy unless citizens do not vote positively, embracing the EU measures, although the government clearly asks them to reject the plan.

If the referendum ends with a loud “yes” on the measures, the assessments are that the state will go to new elections because the current government is opposed to European measures and pressures.

Today, all eyes will be turned towards the meeting of the European Central Bank, from which is expected to decide whether to introduce capital controls, i.e. to limit the amount that citizens will able to withdraw daily. French newspaper “Liberation” reports that ECB will stop sending finances to Greece unless the state introduced controls on banks and extraction of resources. According to Greek media, the National Bank has already considered scenarios in that direction, as the closure of banks for seven days and extracting money totaling 200 euros per day from an ATM, similar to what happened in Cyprus few years ago.

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