Greek Prime Minister ‘Ready to Drop’ Bailout Referendum

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has said he is ready to drop a proposed referendum on the country’s eurozone bailout deal. He said he had started talks to secure opposition support in parliament which would make the vote unnecessary. His announcement of a referendum angered European leaders and sent shockwaves through its markets. Facing calls for his resignation, Mr. Papandreou called for unity in ruling party ranks ahead of a confidence vote on Friday. He has a thin majority. But Finance Minster Evangelos Venizelos, addressing the Socialist Party (Pasok) MP’s immediately after the prime minister, said Greece must say it was not holding a referendum. He said Greece must do everything it can to reassure its international partners it will immediately implement the Eurozone bailout deal. 

 

Josh looked up from the screen and found himself being watched. He looked away quickly, so as not to meet Amy’s gaze. He knew they had to talk but right now he had to finish this article. It had been awkward enough when he’d arrived back to the office that morning and she’d cornered him, wondering why he’d really stayed home yesterday. He didn’t have the courage to tell her the truth yet and wanted to have more time to prepare what he was going to say to her. The kiss had awakened the feelings he’d been denying for the past few weeks and it had scared the heck out of him. He knew things could never be as they were before the kiss, but how did he really want them to be? Josh shook his head, telling himself to focus…

 

European Union leaders say Greece cannot get bailout cash until it agrees the deal. Responding to the recent developments in Greece, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that after talks with Mr. Papandreou on Wednesday there was more of a sense of urgency in the country. The opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras called for a caretaker government and snap elections within six weeks, and for Mr. Papandreou to stand down. The EU bailout, agreed last month, would give the heavily indebted Greek government 130 billion euros ($178 billion) and it imposes a 50% write-off on private holders of Greek debts, in return for deeply unpopular austerity measures. 

 

“Can we talk?” Amy’s voice made Josh look up from the screen. She was hovering beside him and he swallowed nervously. This was it.

“I’m almost done this article… Can we talk in a bit?”

“We can’t avoid this forever,” she insisted, as if he needed to be reminded.

“I know. Just… give me ten minutes, okay? I’ll meet you in the conference room down the hall.” When she intensified her expression it gave him chills and Josh reached over to put a hand on her forearm. “I promise,” he assured.

“Okay,” Amy nodded, apparently pleased with that answer. She stayed there for a few seconds before turning and walking back to her desk. Josh took a deep breath and turned back to his screen.

 

Mr. Papandreou said the referendum deal was an end in itself, and there were two other choices – an election, which he said would bankrupt the country, or a consensus in parliament. But he also said that he was not afraid of asking the Greek people for a referendum if necessary. 

 

Josh sat back, looking at the article. It looked like the Greece Prime Minister was stuck between a rock and a hard place. When he’d saved the article and sent it to Dan, he stood to go meet Amy in the conference room. I know how you feel, Prime Minister, Josh thought as he walked down the hall.

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