Greece Leader Asks People to Reject 'Blackmail'

Polls are dead even ahead of vote with massive implications
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2015 4:37 PM CDT
Greece Leader Asks People to Reject 'Blackmail'
Demonstrators shout slogans during a rally organized by supporters of the No vote in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki.   (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Greece's top court has declared that Sunday's referendum on a bailout is constitutional, meaning the vote with huge implications for all of Europe will proceed. The latest polls show a dead heat, reports AP, as leaders on both sides try to rally support—especially Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose political life may be at stake. “I ask you to say no to ultimatums, blackmail, and fear-mongering,” he said in a TV address. “No to divisions, no to those who want to spread panic.” He sought to downplay the notion that a "no" vote could lead to Greece leaving the euro zone. Instead, he said, the referendum is about giving him more leverage to get a better deal from creditors. It's the only way Greece can "live with dignity in Europe," he said, per the BBC.

The Washington Post has a primer on the financial reasons behind the vote, but a story in the New York Times casts it in more personal terms. It's largely become a referendum on Tsipras himself, and the story suggests that's why European leaders itching to get rid of him limited emergency funds to Greek banks this week. The move set off a panic among people scrambling for cash, and his popularity tumbled. “I don’t see how anybody can believe that the timing of this was coincidence,” says a US economist. “When you restrict the flow of cash enough to close the banks during the week of a referendum, this is a very deliberate move to scare people.” Tsipras initially said he would step down if the "yes" vote prevails, but he has since backed down from that position. (Read more Greece stories.)

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