Streets in cities across Greece has erupted into celebrations as results from Sunday’s referendum showed voters clearly rejecting the bailout terms put forward by the country’s lenders.
With over 91 percent of the votes counted, from nearly 9 million voters, the "No" vote rejecting the bailout terms from European Creditors continues to be well ahead in the polls.
'The Greek people say no more austerity, no to loss of national soveriegnty.'
The margin in the results is much larger than projected, with exit polls predicting a slim majority against the conditions for the financial package needed to avoid a debt default and a possible banking collapse. According to several separate polls, the ‘No’ vote on bailout terms was ahead by 3-8 percentage points.
More than 10 million people were eligible to participate in the vote, which was called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after bailout talks with European lenders failed. The Syriza government also responded by closing the banks and imposing capital controls after announcing it would not make the June 30 deadline for repayment to the IMF.
The referendum in Greece has taken place without any incidents, the Greek Interior Ministry said in a statement. "Until now, there have been no complaints or reports about the problems during the voting in the referendum," the statement said.
Tsipras said in a statement after casting his vote: “Today is a day of celebration because democracy is a cause to celebrate, to be joyful. And when democracy conquers fear and blackmail, then it also leads to redemption, and a way forward.”
Leading up to the vote, Tsipras urged the people to vote "No", saying it would strengthen his left-wing government's position in talks with international creditors also known as the troika, comprised of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
“Many may try to ignore the will of a government. But no one can ignore the will of a people who are seeking to live with dignity, to live life on their own terms,” said Tsipras after casting his ballot Sunday.
The left-wing leader and his Syriza government have been trying to keep their anti-austerity pledges that propelled them to victory in the country’s January general elections. Despite pushing a “Yes” on the bailout deal, European leaders acknowledged that the offer from European creditors may not be on the table following the Greek vote.
The current crisis has sent shock waves through the world’s financial markets, who fear the repercussions of a ‘Grexit’ from the Euro.
Greece's today assertive 'No' vote “must be respected,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have agreed during a phone call between the leaders of Europe's biggest economies where they discussed the outcome of Greece's referendum and holding an extraordinary euro zone summit on July 7, a German government spokesman says.
“Both were in agreement that the vote by the Greek people be respected. The Chancellor and the President are in favor of calling for a summit of euro zone heads of state and government heads on Tuesday,” the spokesman said.
Merkel is due to travel to Paris on Monday to hold talks with Hollande on how to move forward on the Greek debt crisis after the “No” vote. The two leaders had also sent a related request on the summit to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, according to sources in the French presidency.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank is also due to hold a separate meeting Monday with a decision pending on what to do about Greek lenders that are dependent on its emergency credit.
In a televised announcement, Tsipras called on Europeans to address the economic crisis that is engulfing the whole region.
Tsipras thanked not only the Greek citizens but all Europeans for the support provided to his government's policies, as Greeks overwhelming voted “No” in today’s referendum, rejecting more austerity measures. “Our country decided to give continuity to a strong and participative democracy,” he said.
“Tomorrow, Greece will enter in a better position to negotiate economic conditions,” stated Syriza's leader. “I want to remind you that today at this very moment the people has answered the correct way and changed the dialogue with Europe.”