Greece voted for a ‘No’ in the crucial referendum that took place on Sunday. An overwhelming 61 per cent of the voters said ‘No’ to a bailout package by international creditors in exchange for austerity measures. Only 39 per cent voted for a ‘Yes’ in the nation-wide vote.
The ‘No’ motion was being aggressively backed by the government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned despite the government’s victory. Varoufakis’ forceful denunciations of creditors had alienated many of his Eurozone colleagues. Varoufakis expressed hope that his move would help smooth the path to a new aid deal.
Thousands of jubilant government supporters celebrated in Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament in Athens, waving Greek flags and chanting “No, no, no!”
“We don’t want austerity measures anymore, this has been happening for the last five years and it has driven so many into poverty, we simply can’t take any more austerity,” said an excited 26-year-old Yiannis Gkovesis, a resident of Athens.
It was a decisive victory for Tsipras’ five-month-old coalition.
“Today we celebrate the victory of democracy,” Tsipras said in a televised address to the nation, describing Sunday as “a bright day in the history of Europe.” “We proved even in the most difficult circumstances that democracy won’t be blackmailed,” he said.
“Given the unfavourable conditions last week, you have made a very brave choice. But I am aware that the mandate you gave me is not a mandate for rupture,” Tsipras told Greeks in his address. Tsiparas also added that he was on stronger ground now to negotiate a viable solution with the country’s creditors for a better deal.
But European officials and most of Greece’s opposition parties believe the outcome of the vote has left Greece’s future uncertain. They believe that a ‘No’ result may lead to Greece’s exit from the 19-nation Eurozone and possibly even the European Union.
The opposition accused Tsipras of jeopardising the country’s membership in the Eurozone. Opinion polls Friday showed that 74 per cent or more want their country to remain in the euro.
An anxious Eurozone has called a summit later today to discuss the situation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will hold a meeting to assess the Greek situation. They spoke to each other on Sunday night and agreed “that the vote of the Greek people must be respected,” Merkel’s office said.
The euro immediately crashed 1.6 per cent after the results. And early trade on the Asian markets saw investors panicking and a fall in most indices including India’s Sensex and Nifty.
The left-wing government led by Tsipras had called the referendum last weekend, the first in over 4 decades. After the referendum was announced, the country faced a number of strict capital control measures. Tsipiras was elected last January on a promise of bringing an end to austerity measures.