By NewsGram Staff Writer
Greece participated on Sunday in a landmark referendum on terms of agreement on the next debt deal with the country’s lenders.
The voting unfolded smoothly and without problems at polling stations throughout the country, officials said.
Greece President Prokopis Pavlopoulos appealed to Greeks to remain united regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s vote, ANA-MPA news agency reported.
According to the Greek ministry of internal affairs and administrative reform, about 8.5 million people are eligible to vote in the referendum.
The referendum would be considered valid if at least 40 per cent of registered voters participate in the vote, TASS news agency reported.
The polling began at 7 a.m and is scheduled to close at 7 p.m. (9.30 IST). It would determine if Greece would avert a looming disorderly default or exit the eurozone.
Ahead of the referendum, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave a call to the citizens to vote against the creditor proposals for austerity reforms, thus throwing into question the country’s continuance in the eurozone.
He said the creditors’ proposals were clearly violating the pan-European rules and the right to employment, equality and dignity.
He urged the Greek people to say “no” to the proposals and the “no” vote would be the chief argument which the government would use as the basis for improving the parameters of the agreement during further consultations with the creditors.
The referendum would also decide whether to accept the debt draft deal with international creditors to restart financial aid to the country or to reject the lenders’ programme that requires Greeks to accept further austerity measures and economic reforms.
According to the IMF, the Greek debt load is unsustainable and Greece needs a debt relief in exchange for reforms and a new 50 billion euro ($5.5 billion) financial package until 2018 to stay afloat.
A day ahead of the referendum voting, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis accused Athens’ creditors of “terrorism”.
European leaders say a “No” vote could lead to Grexit — Greece’s exit from the eurozone.
Meanwhile, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling has said he hopes the Greeks would vote for the draft agreement of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for settling the debt problem and its adoption by the Greek government.
“I hope that common sense will prevail because the Greek people know that it is not just the future of the euro which is in question. It concerns the future of Greece and their own future,” Schelling said.
“We have been making concessions to the Greeks for a long time and we are still extending our hand to them,” Schelling said, adding the EU would resume talks as soon as the Greek government states clearly what it really wants.