As pressure from Greece?s foreign creditors and austerity-weary citizens mounts on the government, Prime Minister George Papandreou is considering calling for a referendum on whether Greece should continue to tackle its debt crisis within the eurozone or by exiting the single currency.
According to sources, Papandreou hopes that the outcome of such a vote would constitute a fresh mandate for his Socialist government to continue with an austerity drive backed by Greece?s international lenders -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
A bill submitted in Parliament, paving the way for a referendum to be carried out, is to be discussed in coming days.
Sources told Kathimerini that many of Papandreou?s close aides had proposed the idea of a referendum to the premier earlier this summer. Since then, pressure has mounted on the government from all sides with Greece?s foreign creditors pushing for quicker and more effective reforms, citizens reacting to the cuts and even members of PASOK?s political council objecting to plans to slash the public sector.
During an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday, several ministers are said to have pressed for drastic action, with some of them calling for early elections.
Interior Minister Haris Kastanidis noted that a negative outcome in a referendum would prompt snap polls. Agriculture Minister Costas Skandalidis reportedly opposed the idea of a referendum and proposed that the government call snap polls as it lacks the mandate to take any new measures, while Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou suggested that PASOK investigate alliances with other political parties.