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Greece: Poll shows 2 sides neck and neck before referendum

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Athens: The brief but intense campaign in Greece’s critical bailout referendum ends today, with simultaneous rallies in Athens for “Yes” and “No” supporters in what an opinion poll shows will be a very close race.

The poll published in To Ethnos newspaper showed the “Yes” campaign slightly in the lead but well within the margin of error. It also showed an overwhelming majority — 74 per cent — want the country to remain in Europe’s joint currency, the euro, compared to 15 per cent who want a national currency.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the referendum last weekend, asking Greeks to decide whether they should accept creditor reform proposals in return for vitally needed bailout funds. He is advocating a “No” vote on Sunday.

But those proposals are no longer on the table after negotiations with European creditors broke down last weekend and Greece’s bailout expired on Tuesday, meaning the country no longer has access to the rescue loans.

The “Yes” campaign says the referendum is in fact a vote on whether Greece wants to remain in the euro and in Europe.

The government rejects this as scaremongering, saying a “No” vote will put it in a better bargaining position and will not lead Greece to leave the eurozone.

The survey conducted by ALCO found 41.5 per cent will vote “Yes” on Sunday and 40.2 percent saying they will vote “No,” with 10.9 percent undecided. The rest said they would abstain or leave their ballots blank.

When discounting those who say they will case blank ballots or abstain, those intending to vote “Yes” came to 44.8 per cent compared to 43.4 per cent who will vote “No” and 11.8 percent undecided.

The survey interviewed 1,000 people nationwide on June 30-July 1 and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

The referendum campaign will wrap up this evening with rallies by the two sides, to be held 800 metres apart in central Athens.

Tsipras is set to speak at the “No” rally in the capital’s main Syntagma Square outside Parliament, while the “Yes” rally will be held at the nearby Panathenian Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1894.

The vote is set to be one of the most important in Greece’s modern history, but many voters are confused about what’s at stake.

The government vehemently denies a “No” vote would force the country out of the euro, but most opposition parties and many European officials have said this could be the case.

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