Greek govt may quit if bailout vote is 'Yes'

Greek govt may quit if bailout vote is 'Yes'
Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis leaving the Finance Ministry building in Athens on Wednesday. He said in a radio interview that if the vote is "Yes", the government could hand over the reins to a caretaker administration.
PHOTO: Reuters

ATHENS - Greece's radical-left government suggested it would resign if it fails to get its way in a make-or-break referendum on Sunday that could decide the country's financial future.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said the government "may very well" quit in a radio interview yesterday.

International creditors and markets are stepping back after days of drama over the Greek crisis to watch the outcome of the weekend consultation.

Ordinary Greeks are in financial limbo due to capital controls imposed this whole week to stem a bank run. They are reduced to 60-euro (S$90) daily automated-teller-machine withdrawal caps.

Athens insists the referendum is just on tough austerity conditions attached to a bailout that expired on Tuesday, but European Union (EU) leaders say it is a vote on whether Greece wants to remain in the euro.

The Greek government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is fiercely campaigning for a "No" vote, believing that rejecting the bailout conditions would strengthen its hand in negotiations with creditors. On Tuesday, it failed to repay 1.5 billion euros to one creditor, the International Monetary Fund.

EU leaders have said they would view a "No" result in the referendum as a rejection of Europe. Mr Varoufakis said in his interview with Australian public radio network ABC that if the vote is "Yes", the government could hand over the reins to a caretaker administration.

A survey published in the Greek press on Wednesday said 46 per cent of voters intended to vote "No", down from the 57 per cent recorded days before the banking restrictions.

If Greece is forced out of the euro and has to print its own money, Mr Varoufakis said the country no longer had the presses to make drachmas.

In 2000, the year before Greece joined the euro zone, "one of the things we had to do was get rid of all our printing presses" as part of the bloc's assertion that "this monetary union is irreversible", he said.

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