Tens of thousands rallied in Greece Friday, in rival rallies for and against a bailout that comes with more austerity measures..
Close to 25,000 rallied in Athens' Syntagma Square in opposition to austerity and support of the Syriza government. Another 12,000 rallied near the Panathenian stadium in favor of accepting the bailout, according to police estimates.
On the streets, a handful of clashes have taken place between rival protesters, with police stating they have broken up scuffles around Syntagma.
The massive rallies mark the final day of campaigning ahead of Sunday's referendum. The snap vote will ask Greeks whether they want Syriza to accept harsh austerity measures demanded by international creditors. Opinion polls suggest the vote will be close, with both the Yes and No camps in a dead heat.
In a last minute appeal to voters, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged Greeks to vote down austerity. He argued the referendum will represent a choice to "live in dignity in Europe.”
"Greece is the cradle of civilization. We won't allow the technocrats of austerity to rape Europe again, and to take Europe away from us,” he told crowds of cheering supporters.
Continuing, Tsipras said, “I call upon you to ignore the sirens, the scaremongering, decide for Greece, proud Greece in a democratic Europe.”
Tsipras' opposition to austerity was bolstered earlier in the day when reports emerged that European leaders had secretly tried to stop the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from publishing a downbeat analysis of Greece's ability to handle more debt. Released Thursday, the document suggested Greece would need at least 50 billion euros (US$55 billion) in additional aid over the next three years to avoid financial collapse.
Tsipras said the report vindicated his position that more austerity for debt isn't the solution to Greece's economic woes.
“The IMF published a report on Greece's economy which is a great vindication for the Greek government as it confirms the obvious – that Greek debt is not sustainable,” he said.