Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the referendum a week ago following his government’s rejection of a plan to extend their bailout program at the expense of the Greek people-a plan that Tsipras himself has referred to as “blackmail.” Unemployment is at 26% in Greece, and even higher among young people, so people simply can’t endure the harsh austerity measures that the rest of Europe is demanding of them. The past week has already seen the European Central Bank placing limits on the amount of cash people could withdraw from Greek banks, just adding to the chaos that would ensue if the Greek people were to face further austerity. “Why did they force us to close the banks?” asked Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in a recent interview, while referring to Greece’s creditors in the rest of Europe. “To instil fear in people,” he answered. “And spreading fear is called terrorism.”
This ‘terrorism’ is indeed working as intended, as the recent capital controls combined with food and medicine shortages have urged some Greeks to favour the “Yes” campaign out of fear of further repercussions. Polls suggest that the result is still too close to call, as rallies for both sides flooded the streets of Athens on Friday. Tsipras is quite clearly promoting the “No” vote, with anything else likely being a fatal blow in his fight to keep his country afloat. But a “No” vote could also mean Greece’s ejection from the Eurozone, and-less likely-the European Union.
Though with all things considered, that doesn’t look like too bad of an option right now.