Greece enters uncharted territory after referendum 'no' vote
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece lurched into uncharted territory and an uncertain future in Europe's common currency Sunday after voters overwhelmingly rejected demands by international creditors for more austerity measures in exchange for a bailout of its bankrupt economy.
Results showed 61 percent voted "no," compared with 38 percent for "yes," with 93 percent of the vote counted. The referendum — Greece's first in more than four decades — came amid severe restrictions on financial transactions in the country, imposed last week to stem a bank run that accelerated after the vote was called.
Thousands of jubilant government supporters celebrated in Syntagma Square in front of Parliament, waving Greek flags and chanting "No, no, no!"
It was a decisive victory for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had gambled the future of his 5-month-old leftist government — and his country — in an all-or-nothing game of brinkmanship with Greece's creditors from other European countries that use the euro currency, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank."Today we celebrate the victory of democracy," Tsipras said in a televised address from his office, 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.
Tsipras called the referendum last weekend, saying a "no" vote would strengthen his hand to negotiate a better deal for his country. His government has said it believes it would be possible to conclude a deal with creditors within 48 hours.
© AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti A supporter of the No vote waves a Greek flag in front of the parliament after the results of the referendum at Syntagma square in Athens, Sunday, July 5, 2015. Greeks overwhelmingly rejected creditors' demands for…But European officials and most of Greece's opposition parties painted the referendum as one of whether country kept using the euro currency — even though that was not the convoluted question asked on the ballot. Opinion polls Friday showed that 74 percent or more want their country to remain in the euro.
"Given the unfavorable conditions last week, you have made a very brave choice," Tsipras told Greeks in his address. "But I am aware that the mandate you gave me is not a mandate for rupture." He said he would seek to negotiate a viable solution with the country's creditors.
How European officials react to the referendum result will be critical for the country, and a eurozone summit was called for Tuesday evening to discuss the situation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande spoke to each other Sunday night and agreed "that the vote of the Greek people must be respected," Merkel's office said.
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's vice chancellor and economic minister, told a German newspaper that the Greek government was leading its people "onto a path of bitter austerity and hopelessness."
Tsipras has "torn down the last bridges, across which Europe and Greece could move toward a compromise," Gabriel told the daily Tagesspiegel. "By saying 'no' to the eurozone's rules, as is reflected in the majority 'no' vote, it's difficult to imagine negotiations over an aid package for billions."
Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt said a "no" result "complicates matters," but he insisted the door remained open to resume talks within hours.
"What we certainly don't want to do is to take decisions that will threaten the monetary union," he told Belgium's VRT. "Within that framework we can start talks again with the Greek government, literally, within hours."
Time has run out for Greece, which is dealing with an economy in a protracted recession, with high unemployment and banks dangerously low on capital.
The international bailout — under which it received nearly 240 billion euros in rescue loans — expired last week, on the same day Greece defaulted on an IMF repayment, becoming the first developed nation to do so.
Of critical importance will be whether the European Central Bank decides to maintain its current lifeline to Greece in the form of emergency liquidity assistance, or ELA. The assistance, currently at around 90 billion euros, has been maintained but not increased in past days, leaving the country's financial system in a stranglehold.
Sunday's vote was held after a week of capital controls imposed to halt a bank run, with Greeks restricted to a daily cash withdrawal maximum of 60 euros ($67). Long lines have formed at ATMs across the country, while pensioners without bank cards have thronged the few bank branches opened to allow them access to a maximum 120 euros for the week.
The ECB operates on rules according to which it can only continue ELA funding if Greece is in a bailout. Without an increase, it is unclear how much longer people will be allowed to withdraw 60 euros per day. Some analysts say Greece is so starved of cash that it could be forced to start issuing its own currency.
No country has ever left the 19-member eurozone, established in 1999.
The margin of victory was far wider than expected, and is likely to strengthen the young prime minister's defiance toward Europe. Tsipras was voted into office in January on a promise to repeal bailout austerity.
"This victory for the 'no' camp will unfortunately embolden the government, but is likely to do little to convince the creditors that Tsipras is a trustworthy negotiating partner who has any ability to implement a deal," said Megan Greene, chief economist of Manulife Asset Management. "Keep in mind that any deal for Greece will involve a much larger fiscal adjustment than the one on which Greeks voted today. I don't think that Germany in particular will be willing to make any concessions for Tsipras."
There was confusion Sunday night over the fate of bank safety deposit boxes, with Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani saying people would be allowed to remove items from them, but not cash, and Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas later said the issue would have to be taken up by lawmakers.
Queues at ATMs swelled as the initial results came in. Later, those supporting an end to austerity celebrated.
"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 Yiannis Gkovesis, 26, holding a large Greek flag in the capital's main square.
Constantinos Papanikolas, 73, clutched a Greek flag as he walked along a main Athens street. He said the result meant "a fresh start, a new page for Greece and for Europe, which has condemned its people to poverty."
"We look to new negotiations not to impoverish and enslave people, but to bring them to prosperity and freedom," he said. "We believe this vote will make a difference."
Opposition conservative New Democracy lawmaker Vangelis Meimarakis said he was expecting Tsipras to keep his pledge for
Only a final handful of votes are still to be counted in Greece.
Around 96% of ballot papers have now been processed, with the No side bobbing around the 61.3% mark.
Spain to follow.
Time for Greece to break the EU apart. More countries to follow soon. The EU is one big snake and it is time to leave it forever.
Last edited by lebanese1984; 06-07-2015 at 10:16 AM.
Post Thanks / Like - 1 Thanks, 2 Likes, 0 Dislikes
61% of Greeks Vote 'No' in Referendum, Result Sends Euro into Tailspin
Greece's government on Sunday looked to have won a 'No' it had been seeking in a referendum on bailout terms, but the euro immediately plummeted on fears the result could splinter the eurozone.
An official tally of over half the ballots cast showed a resounding 61 percent of Greek voters had backed the government's 'No' in the plebiscite.
Senior eurozone officials were to hold talks on Monday to discuss the result, a European source told AFP.
France's President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were to meet in Paris the same day to assess the result, the French presidency said. Hollande also spoke with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by telephone late Sunday.
Merkel's deputy chancellor, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had "torn down bridges" between his country and Europe with the vote.
New negotiations on a bailout were now "difficult to imagine," he told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.
The euro crashed 1.6 percent in the wake of the referendum, to $1.0963, in electronic trading before Asian markets opened.
Several EU leaders had said a 'No' vote could see an end to further bailout negotiations, forcing Greece to leave the 19-nation eurozone -- and possibly even the European Union -- in a "Grexit".
But Athens insisted the result meant it was better placed now to demand its international creditors -- the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- drop harsh austerity demands and accept a restructuring of its debt.
"With this result, the prime minister has a clear mandate from the Greek people," government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said on television.
"Initiatives will intensify from this evening (Sunday) onward so that there can be a deal" on a new bailout, he said.
He added that the Bank of Greece was immediately asking the European Central Bank to inject emergency euro cash for Greece's depleted banks, which have been shuttered all week because of capital controls.
Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, who also leads the junior coalition party in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' leftwing government, said in a tweet that the Greeks "proved they don't bow to blackmail, to threats."
- Cheering crowd -
A growing crowd of 6,000 gathered in central Athens late Sunday to celebrate the 'No' vote. The scene was festive, with cheering and smiling Greeks shouting "Oxi" (No) and hugging each other.
"I believe in Tsipras and in this government," said George Stasinopoulos, 25. "The governments in Europe don't support us but their people do and this gives us courage."
He said he believed the result would secure "a better future for me and my children."
Tsipras, who had staked his political career on the outcome, had said as he cast his own ballot in Athens that "no one can ignore the will of the people to live, to live with determination, to take its destiny into its own hands."
However, in other streets in the capital, some voters who had cast 'No' ballots said they had been confronted with an impossible choice.
One of them, Nika Spenzes, 33 and unemployed, said: "I'm not happy -- we cannot be happy as a nation with this unemployment and poverty. And a 'No' victory doesn't mean there's any more hope for Greece than before."
Even 'Yes' voters were ambivalent about their camp's apparent defeat.
Paris, a 41-year-old dentist who had voted 'Yes', said: "I cannot honestly say I'm sad if the Nos have won because there's no real hope either way."
- Banks need cash -
Greece's most pressing problem, was to ease capital controls Tsipras' government ordered to stem a bank run that had been rapidly draining bank deposits.
The measure, implemented after his announcement a week ago that he had suspended bailout talks to hold the referendum, has limited ATM card holders to daily withdrawals of just 60 euros ($67) a day.
Panic at that step, and at fears of Grexit, also prompted citizens to stock up on non-perishable food, medicine and imported goods, clearing out supermarket shelves.
The Greek banks' liquidity was expected to dry up entirely within a day or two unless the ECB -- a major creditor -- injected funds quickly through the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) mechanism.
The Euro Working Group, which comprises top treasury officials who prepare meetings for the Eurogroup of finance ministers from the 19-country currency union, will hold a meeting Monday to discuss the referendum.
Martin Schulz, the head of the European Parliament, though scathing of Tsipras' actions, told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that Europe could give short-term emergency loans to Greece "so that public service can be maintained and needy people get the money they need to survive."
Greece was officially declared in default on Friday by the European Financial Stability Facility, which holds 144.6 billion euros ($160 billion) of Greek loans, after Athens missed an IMF repayment.
Tsipras has called for the ECB, IMF and European Commission forgive 30 percent of the 240 billion euros ($267 billion) they have loaned Greece over the past five years, and allow it a 20-year grace period before it starts repaying the rest.
I think that exit of Greece should strengthen EU rather than weaken - lesser mouths to feed.
Originally Posted by lebanese1984
Some say this and some say otherwise. Other nations will follow mainly Spain and France. I don't know but it will sure not be the same.
Originally Posted by proisrael-nonisraeli
I imagine that Greece will survive and do nicely in the long run but it will have to suffer from the folly of socialism. I read a comment from a poster at the J Post that Greeks don't like to work hard. Perhaps that's true of anyone who is fed from the tit of Socialism for decades.
I think I know Greeks fairly well in the US, the mainland and some of the islands in the Aegean and Adriatic Seas and they do indeed work hard and play hard too.
Anyone who eats out regularly knows that the Greeks are a predominate force in restaurant trade throughout the East Coast of the US and every little diner in Ny City is owned by them and that is not the trade of a lazy man or woman.
Sloth is not the trait of a Greek, politics is, unfortunately many of my ancient relatives have been eating on someone else's bill, the check is due, no money to pay not even the gratuity so they will have to wash dishes for a while.
They will find their way after all they did conquer most of the known ancient world. It is a proud culture and they will not go gentle into this good night.
Last edited by Samaritan; 07-07-2015 at 12:37 PM.
Who would claim to be that, who was not.
Post Thanks / Like - 1 Thanks, 0 Likes, 0 Dislikes
Agree, it will not be the same - one cannot step into the same river.
Originally Posted by lebanese1984
Why would you include France into this.
And my prediction regarding Spain - they will sit and wait to see what will happen to Greece before they will decide what they want.
EU brass understands this too and that is why they might choose to make Greece's departure from EU, should it happen, as unpleasant as possible.
They already have a successful example to follow, Iceland, who have done just fine since without the IMF, World Bank, etc.
"No need to say more...I, for one, do not care one iota about being politically correct, I do call it as I see it without no fear, and those who get their feeling hurt by such truth I say to them:
" GO CRY ME A RIVER" "-Beirutilibnani
The Right To Do Something Does Not Mean It Is Right. (William Safire)
Every piece of this is man's bullshit. They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shit, it's raining!'
The main purpose of placing pressure on Greece was political. You do know that a communist was placed as PM right? They tried to get the government out of power and cause a collapse and it failed big time. 61% of the people in Greece are with the PM and his party. The EU placed huge pressure and were giving Greece huge amounts of money which they knew Greece will not be able to pay. The banks knew it but they still gave it to them as they wanted Greece to be in a situation which it can never recover from.
Originally Posted by proisrael-nonisraeli