Politics

Greek referendum wording 'susceptible to abuse': expert

Referendum text proposed to Greek people is partly in English

30.06.2015
Greek referendum wording 'susceptible to abuse': expert

By Magda Panoutsopoulou and Andrew Jay Rosenbaum

ATHENS

 The text for the Greek referendum on the bailout, to be held on Sunday in Greece, is likely to be unclear to voters, experts say.

The Greek Interior Ministry published the text late on Monday. It is partly in English, and reads:

"Should the plan of the agreement be accepted, which was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, in the Eurogroup of 25.6.2015, and comprises two parts which constitute their unified proposal?"

“The first document is entitled [in English in the text] Reforms for the completion of the current program and beyond, and the second, [in English in the text] Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis."

“NOT ACCEPTED – NO

ACCEPTED – YES”

The two documents referred to in English are to be appended to the ballot.

Experts remarked that this kind of language was “susceptible to abuse”.

"It is typical of a referendum to ask narrow and precise questions of the ‘yes-no’ type. The wording of the statement put forth for a popular vote is of cardinal significance," Greek political scientist Protesilaos Stavrou, said in a blog published on Monday.

The use of oblique and technical language can make one option odious, he warned.

On Twitter, Greek voters in large numbers complained of the challenging language in the referendum. "No one really knows what voting 'yes' or 'no' really means and what the consequences will be,” wrote an irate Greek voter who tweeted the text on Tuesday.

Further objections were made about the fact that the no vote preceded the yes vote, which some thought was an unusual choice in a referendum.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi commented in a tweet on Tuesday: "The point is: Greek referendum won’t be a derby EU Commission vs Tsipras, but euro vs drachma. This is the choice."

Dimitris Kourkoulas replied in a tweet: "And the winner will be Greece, euro, Europe and democracy. Populism will be the big loser."

The referendum originally was called by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a tweet sent on Saturday. It was then voted by the Greek parliament on Sunday.

The referendum is intended to offer a choice between accepting the final bailout terms offered by the European Commission, as published on Friday, which comprises a compromise position between that of the Greek government and its creditors.

Late on Monday, Tsipras told Greeks in a televised speech that his government would not survive a yes vote in the bailout referendum.

"If the (Greek) people vote 'yes,' then the referendum outcome will be completely respected but I will not serve it," he said. "I'm not an all-weather prime minister. I will respect the verdict and prepare the ground as outlined by the constitution and the parliament," he added.

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