Greeks have voted and have rejected the “ridiculed” austerity demands of Europe’s creditor powers by a stunning margin, sweeping aside warnings that this could lead to the collapse of the banking system.
The final result in the referendum, published by the interior ministry, was 61.3% “No”, against 38.7% who voted “Yes”.
Greece’s governing Syriza party had campaigned for a “No”, saying the bailout terms were humiliating.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said late on Sunday that Greeks had voted for a “Europe of solidarity and democracy”.
“As of tomorrow, Greece will go back to the negotiating table and our primary priority is to reinstate the financial stability of the country,” he said in a televised address.
“This time, the debt will be on the negotiating table,” he added, saying that an International Monetary Fund assessment published this week “confirms Greek views that restructuring the debt is necessary”.
Alexis Tsipras has called the eurozone’s bluff – and it appears to have gone his way. There is still a 39% of the Greek nation deeply unhappy with what has happened. And the government will have to unite a divided country.
4 out of 10 Greeks did not want this situation where they might have to exit the EU. More than that, a deal with the eurozone has to be struck fast.
Greek banks are running critically low and will need another injection of emergency funds from the European Central Bank.
Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis called the eurozone’s strategy “terrorism”.
The banking crisis and tax revenues plummeting amidst the instability, Greece’s economy has weakened again, making a deal even harder to reach.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was consulting the leaders of eurozone member states, and would have a conference call with key EU officials and the ECB on Monday morning.
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are scheduled to meet in Paris on Monday.
A summit of eurozone heads of state has been called for Tuesday, June 7.
The European Commission – one of the “troika” of creditors along with the IMF and the ECB – wanted Athens to raise taxes and slash welfare spending to meet its debt obligations.
Greece’s Syriza-led government, which was elected in January on an anti-austerity platform, said creditors had presented it with an “ultimatum”, using fear to put pressure on Greeks.
The Greek government’s opponents and some Greek voters had complained that the question in Sunday’s referendum was unclear. EU officials said it applied to the terms of an offer that was no longer on the table.
The turnout in Sunday’s referendum was 62.5%.