Greece may hold referendum on euro zone membership

Updated: 2011-09-20 09:35


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Greece may hold referendum on euro zone membership
A shadow of a man is reflected on a shop window of a closed shop with a "for rent" sign on it in central Athens September 19, 2011. Greece pledged to pile on as much austerity as needed to secure further aid, ahead of talks on Monday with its international lenders that could determine if it can avoid a default. The Greek retail association ESEE told the government in a statement on Monday that Commerce can't stand any more measures. [Photo/Agencies] 

ATHENS - Greece may hold a voter referendum on euro zone membership as a way to strengthen the government's hand in dealing with the debt crisis within the euro zone or by exiting the single currency, the Kathimerini English language newspaper reported on its website on Tuesday.

Prime Minister George Papandreou is considering calling for the referendum as pressure has mounted from all sides with Greece's foreign creditors pushing for quicker budget cuts, while large-scale citizen street protests against austerity are held almost daily, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

A bill to be submitted in parliament, paving the way for a referendum, is to be discussed in the coming days, the newspaper added.

Papandreou had earlier resisted any referendum, but now  thinks such a vote could bring a fresh mandate for his Socialist government to continue with an austerity drive backed by Greece's international lenders, the newspaper said.

The cabinet is reportedly split, with several ministers calling for drastic action including early elections at an emergency meeting on Sunday, the newspaper said, while others want to avoid a referendum or new polls.


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