In a telephone call with Greek President Carlos Papoulias, German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that a referendum could be held in parallel with the parliamentary elections. The news was announced by the press office of the new prime minister Panagiotis Pikramenos. The referendum should be on "to what extent are the Greek citizens willing to remain within the eurozone". The official message from the prime minister’s press office said that in addition to the idea of a referendum, Merkel had assured the President that the European Union would continue to support the efforts of Greece to reform and would provide additional incentives to stimulate economic growth.
Merkel's suggestion for a referendum has intensified the anti-German leanings in Greece and many of the political forces considered it a rude interference in the internal affairs of the country. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said that Merkel's attempt could be called abortive. "The Greek people do not need a referendum to prove that they want the euro - a choice they have been protecting with bloody sacrifices after all." Alexis Tsipras from SYRIZA said, "Merkel will find the solution to the issue in the elections on 17 June." He noted that the Chancellor addresses the government of Greece as a German colony, but it will not last long. PASOK noted that the Greeks have no doubts about keeping the country within the euro zone. The only issue of concern for them is emerging from the crisis, but within the European family. The leader of Democratic Left Fotis Kouvelis said that Angela Merkel is trying to intimidate the Greeks and Louka Katseli from Social Alliance described the suggestion as offensive and provocative. The far right LAOS noted that the idea of a referendum was an appalling interference in the internal affairs of Greece and another provocative mistake of the foreign policy of Germany.
Some political analysts in Greece accused Angela Merkel in playing a double game after she and Nicolas Sarkozy had not allowed George Papandreou to hold a referendum in December 2011. The opponents to this accusation recalled that Papandreou's suggestion for a referendum was on whether to accept the second bailout or reject it. Analysts are adamant that it was essentially different from the Chancellor's suggestion "to what extent are the Greek citizens willing to remain within the eurozone". Shortly after the news had spread in the Greek media, Merkel's office denied the issue of a referendum to have been raised in Merkel's conversation with Carlos Papoulias.
Meanwhile, Greece is preparing for the second elections this year and budget revenues are steadily declining. According to the Ministry of Finance, tax offices collected 300 million euro less than what the Troika had set. It is a 15% difference between what was planned and achieved, and the trend remains negative. Bad news continues as on Thursday, Fitch ratings downgraded Greece to 'CCC' due to the political instability in the country and on Friday, the agency lowered the rating of the five largest Greek banks. The National Bank of Greece, Eurobank EFG, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and the Agricultural Bank were downgraded from 'B' to 'CCC'. Fitch downgraded the country because Greece is very likely to leave the eurozone, if the government elected on 17 July is not willing to meet its obligations under the Memorandum of financial assistance. Such a decision will affect the local financial sector negatively, which is why the credit rating agency cut the banks too.