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Thessaloniki 'referendum' rejects water board sale

Thessaloniki officials say residents vote overwhelmingly against water company sale

Thessaloniki 'referendum' rejects water board sale

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- Local authorities say residents in Greece's second-largest city of Thessaloniki have voted overwhelmingly against plans to privatize the city's water company, in an unofficial referendum branded as illegal by the government.

Organizers said Monday 98 percent of the 218,000 participants opposed government plans to sell a 51 percent stake in the company under financially-troubled Greece's huge privatization program.

The vote was held in Thessaloniki and outlying municipalities Sunday, together with nationwide local and regional elections. It was staged by 11 municipalities, including the city of Thessaloniki, and citizens' groups who oppose the project.

Organizers set up ballot boxes outside official voting centers after being banned from holding the vote inside. They said more than half the voters taking part in the local elections cast their ballot on the water issue.