Greeks Are Emptying Their Bank Accounts After Last Night's Referendum Announcement

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Greeks Are Emptying Their Bank Accounts After Last Night's Referendum Announcement

Panic has set in as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has announced a referendum to decide on austerity demands from foreign creditors.
June 27, 2015, 2:02pm

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after the announcement.

Late last night, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gathered his cabinet and called a referendum for voters to decide whether to accept a bailout deal that includes, what he calls, "unfair" austerity demands from foreign creditors. The referendum, set to take place on Sunday July the 5th, was announced just after midnight Greek time.

"After five months of tough negotiations, our partners unfortunately resorted to a proposal-ultimatum to the Greek people," Tsipras said. "I call on the Greek people to rule on the blackmailing ultimatum asking us to accept a strict and humiliating austerity without end and without prospect."

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Right after last night's meeting, many Greek ministers claimed that people would vote "no" and reject the bailout demands—further cuts in pension and taxes, among other things.

Leaders and MPs from opposition parties are rallying against the move, saying that a referendum will destroy the country. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, President of the Eurogroup (an informal body of the finance ministers of the eurozone), told reporters that he thought it was a "sad decision" for Greece.

"The Greek government has apparently rejected our last proposals… that is a sad decision for Greece because it has closed the door for further talks where the door was still open in my mind."

Following the historic news, Saturday morning saw many Greeks running to banks, supermarkets and gas stations to stock up and prepare themselves for the unknown. Tsipras' surprise announcement, which was the result of five long months of counterproductive negotiations with the country's lenders, is a dramatic moment in Greece's modern history and one that may lead the country to default on its massive loans.

It's unclear how the next few days will play out. Some protests have been announced and anarchists threw a couple of Molotov cocktails in Exarcheia. What is for sure is that Greeks seem to be taking no chances and are withdrawing their money while they're still sure they can.

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