German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly suggested to Greek President Karolos Papoulias that a referendum on Greece's position in the eurozone be held at the same time as the nation's second elections on June 17.
The irony of such a suggestion cannot be lost after Merkel shot down the former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's plans to hold such a referendum in October, ultimately resulting in his fall from power and his replacement with an unelected technocrat.
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras released a statement saying that during a telephone conversation between Merkel and Papoulias the former "conveyed thoughts about a vote parallel to the election with the question to what extent do the Greek citizens wish to remain within the eurozone." (BBC) However, a spokesman for Merkel refuted the suggestion.
The Greek political body reacted angrily to Merkel's suggestion. Ekathimerini reported PASOK released a statement saying "referendums fall exclusively within the competencies of the government and the Greek Parliament and not the EU or other member states.” Tsiodras said "it is clear that the matter is beyond the competence of the caretaker government," referring to the interim government sworn in earlier this week until second elections are held.
Antonis Samaras, leader of New Democracy, said "The Greek people don't need a referendum to prove they're pro-euro." His political rival Alexis Tsipras, leader of the extreme left SYRIZA said "Ms. Merkel is used to address Greece's political leaders as if the country was a protectorate."
Tsipras's position of stating Greece should remain in the euro whilst denouncing anti-austerity measures is fuelling speculation that Greece may be forced to leave the eurozone.