The Greek parliament approved a referendum on the latest offer of a debt deal by the country\’s EU-IMF creditors by a majority vote late Saturday night, according to the assembly\’s count.
The referendum on the terms of a proposed bailout planned for Sunday July 5 was approved by at least 179 deputies out of a total of 300 lawmakers. Verification of the vote count was underway.
In a speech prior to the vote, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he was confident that "the Greek people will say an emphatic no to the ultimatum" by the country\’s EU-IMF creditors, but "a big yes to European solidarity".
He also expressed confidence that "in the aftermath of this proud no, the negotiating power of the country (with the country\’s creditors) will be strengthened".
A provisional statement reported 179 positive votes. Members of the majority radical left party Syriza and their allies Independent Greeks (ANEL) voted for the referendum, as well as the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.
The conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK parties voted against, as did the Communist Party and the centrist To Potami.
The Greeks, according to the text of the proposed referendum, must say "yes" or "no" to the measures submitted by the country\’s EU-IMF creditors to the government Friday at one of the final rounds of negotiations that have been going on since late February.
But in the week leading up to the Greek referendum, announced by surprise Friday night, the cash-strapped country is at risk of financial turmoil.
On Tuesday June 30 it may not be able to make a 1.5 billion euro repayment to the IMF — and, on the same day, a financial assistance plan extended to Athens since 2012 will end.
Greece\’s eurozone partners refused Saturday to extend this plan until the date of the referendum, as requested by the Greek government, with the risk that in the coming days, the European Central Bank will cut Greek banks\’ last financing channel.
After months of fruitless negotiations, this week the EU and IMF submitted a proposal to Athens that included a five-month extension of the aid programme with a financial package of 15.5 billion euros in loans in return for reforms and budget saving measures.
The Greek government considered the amount just sufficient to cover repayments to creditors in the coming months, but the conditions inadequate to allow economic recovery.