Campaign to sway Greek vote underway
The battle for Greek votes entered full swing Thursday ahead of a crucial weekend referendum that could decide whether the country falls out of the euro. For Greeks, particularly the elderly, the daily struggle to get cash ground on in the face of uncertainty.
Greece’s rescue lenders have halted negotiations on a new financial aid program until after the vote on whether to accept reforms the creditors proposed last week in exchange for bailout loans.
That Greece will now need a third international bailout is a near certainty. The International Monetary Fund, one of the country’s creditors in its two bailouts so far, said Thursday that the country needs debt relief and 50 billion euros ($56 billion) in new financing from October through 2018.
The analysis was made before Greece defaulted on IMF loans Tuesday and closed its banks Monday. The outlook is worse now.
Debt relief has been one of the main demands of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government, but it met with strenuous resistance in negotiations with Greece’s creditors who, apart from the IMF, are other eurozone countries and the European Central Bank.
But Tsipras has also been adamant he does not want any more bailouts involving just loans — rather a different “growth pact’’ with Europe that will allow the economy to emerge from a depression.
Tsipras called the referendum for Sunday advocating voters reject creditor’s proposals, saying it would put the country in a stronger negotiating position.
The idea was dismissed by the head of the eurozone finance ministers’ group, Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
“That suggestion is simply wrong,’’ Dijsselbloem told lawmakers in the Netherlands.
European officials and the Greek opposition have warned a “no’’ outcome Sunday could be tantamount to a decision to leave the euro.
“The consequences are not the same if it’s a yes or no,’’ French President Francois Hollande said.
“If it’s the yes, even if it’s on the basis of proposals that have already expired, negotiations can resume and I imagine be quickly concluded,’’ he said during a visit to Cotonou, Benin. “We are in something of an unknown. It’s up to the Greeks to respond.’’
Demonstrators, supporting the yes vote for the upcoming referendum, applaud during a rally in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki Thursday.