As to why Greece insists upon a referendum on proposals that have officially expired and appear to be no longer under discussion, the answer seems to lay in that fact that Syriza, Tsipras’ ruling party, believes a “No” vote would strengthen its negotiating hand.
Writing on his personal website on Wednesday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said that “with the power vested upon us by that NO [vote],” the government could “renegotiate Greece’s public debt as well as the distribution of burdens between the haves and the have nots.”
It's unclear how a "No" vote would help Greece's negotiating standpoint, but Varoufakis said since the referendum was announced his European counterparts had “sent signals that they are ready to discuss debt restructuring,” which they have been reluctant to do in the past but which Syriza believes is vital for the long-term health of Greece's economy.
Tsipras said in his speech on Wednesday, “A ‘No’ vote is a decisive step toward a better agreement that we aim to sign right after Sunday's result.”
Polls released Wednesday suggest that Sunday’s poll will be close. One poll put out by the ProRata Institute said that “No” voters retained an advantage, though one that was shrinking after several days of closed banks, while another poll put out by polling organization GPO put the “Yes” ahead by four points.
Tsipras has said a “Yes” vote could mean the end of his short premiership, indicating that he could resign if the majority of Greeks rejected the government's negotiating position on proposals from last weekend.
Either way, the clock is ticking. On July 20, a 3.5 billion euro bond comes due to the ECB, and if no deal between Greece and its creditors is reached before then, most analysts believe it would effectively force Athens to leave the eurozone currency union in order to print its own currency to make up its debts — a move that could see Greek residents’ purchasing power parity drop by 40 percent.
French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday urged the parties to keep working toward a deal, saying it was the responsibility of all to ensure that Greece is kept in the eurozone.
“It is our duty to keep Greece in the eurozone,” he said. “That depends on Greece ... but it also depends on us.”