Local officials in Thessaloniki have decided to go ahead with an informal referendum on the planned privatization of the local water and sewage company, EYATH, despite objections by the Interior Ministry.
The ministry said on Saturday that the plebiscite’s organizers had no right to place ballot boxes inside voting centers, where residents will vote in municipal and regional elections on Sunday. As a result, the 11 mayors of Thessaloniki’s municipalities have agreed that the ballot boxes should be placed outside the voting precincts.
The mayors said they would also not use the electoral roll to crosscheck against Thessaloniki residents wishing to vote in the non-binding referendum. The ministry had also warned that it was against the law for them to do so. Instead, they will use the municipal registers.
A representative from the European Public Service Unions (EPSU) is in Thessaloniki to observe the referendum, which was co-organized by opponents of the government’s plans to sell of its 74-percent stake in EYATH as part of an effort to achieve privatization targets agreed with the troika.
Organizers hope that a resounding no vote could still halt plans to denationalize the company, which is being eyed by Suez Environnement SA and Israel’s national water company Mekorot.
Greece’s privatization fund, TAIPED, has said it will not take the outcome of the referendum into account.