Greek voters have decisively rejected the terms of an international bailout with a resounding “No!” Greeks overwhelmingly rejected conditions of a rescue package from creditors on Sunday, with the final result in the referendum, being 61.3% for “No”, against 38.7% who voted “Yes”.
While this result will throw the future of the country’s euro zone membership into further doubt and cause a possible deeper standoff with lenders, thousands of jubilant Greeks took to the streets of Athens to celebrate the result, waving flags and bursting fire crackers.
Stunned European leaders called a summit for Tuesday to discuss their next move after the surprisingly strong victory in which Greeks had rejected a deal that would have imposed more austerity measures on an already ravaged economy.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said late on Sunday that Greeks had voted for a “Europe of solidarity and democracy”. He denounced the price paid for aid as “blackmail”, a national “humiliation”.
For millions of Greeks the outcome was an angry message to creditors that Greece can no longer accept repeated rounds of austerity that, in five years, had left one in four without a job and shrank the economy by a quarter. The vote, however, leaves Greece in uncharted waters: risking a banking collapse that could force it out of the euro.
Without more emergency funding from the European Central Bank, Greece’s banks could run out of cash within days after a week of rising desperation as banks shut and cash machines ran dry. That might force the government to issue another currency to pay pensions and wages.
“The message from the ‘No’ is that we’re not scared after all the pressure that we faced from both Europe and within,” said Stathis Efthimiadis, a 47-year-old teacher. “We want to live fairly and freely within Europe.”
In a surprised move Greece’s outspoken Finance minister Varousakis has resigned. He said “it was felt his departure would be helpful in finding a solution”.
Photo: Yiorgos GR / Shutterstock
Gildshire Editor, Mia Russell