Greeks yesterday (5 July) rejected the bailout offer in referendum with overwhelming 61 percent saying “no” to the proposed deal. The results reflected the government’s campaign describing bailout terms as “humiliating”. The “yes” campaign, which in the end garnered 39 percent, warned that the rejection could cost Greece the Eurozone membership. Moreover, some European leaders suggested that a “no” would send a signal of an outright refusal to negotiate with creditors.
The Greek government insisted in their pre-referendum campaign that a “no” would enable them to be stricter in the negotiations and thus pave a way for a quick deal for fresh funding. The country’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, called the result of the referendum “a big yes to a democratic Europe”. Government’s spokesperson, Gabriel Sakellaridis, added that “the mandate from the Greek people is for the government to defend its own proposal and its own positions” saying that the real negotiations “must start from tonight” – referring to yesterday’s announcement of the referendum’s results.
Hundreds of Greeks gathered at the Syntagma Square in front of the country’s parliament to celebrate the result that made “all Greeks proud”, as Labour Minister, Panos Skourletis, put it in his statement, while stressing that there was “no Greek today who is not proud”. Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister, commented that the result would encourage the government to aim for a “solution that is financially viable”. He said that the government now had a popular mandate for moves needed to achieve such a outcome of the protracted negotiations between Greece and its creditors.
Greece and its international creditors have been deadlocked in their talks for months until Athens unexpectedly called a referendum on the terms of the deal offered. Banks throughout the country have been closed and capital controls introduced to avoid bank run. Withdrawals from cash machines have been restricted to €60 per day.