Greek PM Shocks Europe, Puts Bailout Up for Vote

Papandreou calls public referendum, Germany furious
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2011 7:48 AM CDT
Updated Nov 1, 2011 7:59 AM CDT
Anti-austerity protesters hold a Greek flag reading 'not for sale' during a student parade in Athens, attended by the Greek minister of education on October 28, 2011.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou threw a major monkey wrench into Europe’s plan to bail out his country yesterday, announcing that he’d be putting the plan negotiated last week up for a referendum, letting all of Greece have its say. That terrified investors—who sent the Athens benchmark general index plunging 6.2%—and infuriated European leaders, particularly in Germany, Bloomberg reports. The announcement came “out of the blue,” a ranking member of Angela Merkel’s party said. “It’s surprising, very risky.”

“Democracy is alive and well, and Greeks are being called to rise to a national duty beyond the regular electoral processes,” Papandreou told parliament in an address on live TV. He also called for a confidence vote in parliament. But there’s every chance voters will shoot down the referendum—polls show most Greeks are against the bailout, and the austerity measures attached to it. That would almost certainly mean a Greek default, and, one senior German lawmaker hinted, a Greek exit from the eurozone.

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