Two days before Greece holds its first referendum since 1975, supporters of both sides to the posed dilemma organized rallies in Athens on Friday evening.
The two demonstrations took place a few miles away from each other with the “No” supporters gathering in Syntgama Square and those in favor of accepting the proposed deal rallied at Kallimarmaro Stadium.
Supporters of the “Yes” vote have largely argued that the question is in reality one between the euro and the drachma. The government has vehemently denied this theory and argued that a “No” vote will strengthen Greece’s position at the negotiating table.
After sending a televised message to the nation, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave his second speech of the day at the “No” rally in Syntagma Square, which garnered around 35,000 people.
“Today we celebrate the victory of democracy. Whatever happens on Monday, we are already winners,” Tsipras told an ecstatic crowd.
Tsipras spoke of Greece’s position as Europe’s birthplace and the ability and history of the Greek people to reject ultimatums.
“On Sunday, we are not simply deciding if we are staying in Europe, but if we are going to live and progress with dignity in Europe, if we are going to be equal in Europe,” he said. “And believe me. No one has the right to threaten they will cut Greece out of its natural geographic place. No one has the right to threaten they will divide Europe.”
The Greek Prime Minister pressed for national unity following the referendum, regardless of the result, as he did in his speech earlier today.
In the “Yes” rally, which was attended by approximately 25,000 people, Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis spoke to supporters of the bailout deal. Kaminis also called for unity but accused the government of holding a snap election this Sunday and of not having any negotiating partners left.
“They are dragging us to vote on a referendum, without giving us the time to think, to discuss calmly, with sobriety,” Kaminis said. “With an incomprehensible question, a sheet of words that do not make any sense.”