In a last-minute panic move, the Greek government, through a circular by Minister of the Interior G.Michelakis, declared “illegal” todays’ grassroots referendum regarding water privatization in Thessaloniki, and threatens the organizers with legal action for “obstructing the electoral process”. This sudden panic move was obviously motivated by the fact that the organization of the referendum so far has been impeccable: Around 1500 volunteers are confirmed for setting up the ballot boxes, which translates to about 7 volunteers per electoral centre. Moreover, the citizens have embraced the referendum and an overwhelming “no” vote is expected.
In a joint press conference earlier yesterday, the organizers, including the municipal councils of the 11 municipalities of Thessaloniki’s metropolitan area, the water workers’ union and citizens’ initiatives, have condemned the tactics of the government, and have declared that the referendum will go on without obstructing the municipal and regional elections, under the supervision of international observers and with the collaboration of Thessaloniki’s Barristers Association.
What these latest developments will mean for the referendum is that the organizers will have to set up the ballot boxes not in the yards of the electoral centres, as previously planned, but in the pavement outside the entrances. This might make it more difficult for the voters to find the ballot box, especially in bigger electoral centers. However the governments’ opposition to the referendum might also have a positive effect, uniting Thessaloniki’s population even more around our common good.
The organization of the referendum moves forward at full speed, and since this morning at 7.00 the referendum ballot boxes and all the necessary material were in place in the approximately 200 electoral centres of the metropolitan area.
Background on the referendum here: