Greek voters gave their government a desperately needed victory Sunday in its showdown with European creditors as the country decisively rejected a bailout proposal that officials here had scorned as “blackmail.”
With nearly all of the votes counted, “no” had won a landslide 61 percent — a bigger figure than nearly anyone had predicted. The result sent thousands of government supporters streaming into central Athens’s Syntagma Square to wave blue-and-white Greek flags, dance to traditional folk songs, and revel in their collective defiance of dire European warnings.
But even as they celebrated, an angry reaction from European officials suggested that Greece’s profound economic struggles may be only beginning. With Greek banks on the verge of insolvency, analysts immediately raised the odds that Greece will be ejected from the euro zone. Government opponents despaired that the country may have taken a dark turn.
In a speech to the nation, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras praised the Greek people for their “very brave choice” and promised it would be rewarded. “You gave me the power not to break away from Europe but to achieve an agreement with Europe that will take us away from austerity and bring us into a new era,” he said. Tsipras called the referendum a little over a week ago, gambling that voters would back him in his rejection of Europe’s latest cash-for-cuts deal and give him leverage to win a better offer.
The outcome represented an extraordinary rebuke to the established European order, one that shook the continent to its core.It remains unclear whether Tsipras’s gamble will pay. The European Council announced late Sunday that the continent’s leaders would convene an emergency summit Tuesday to discuss Greece. Finance ministers also will gather. But Greece’s maverick finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, will not be among them: He announced his resignation on his blog Monday morning, and suggested that Tsipras had asked him to step aside to appease European officials who had grown weary of his lectures about the destructive impact of austerity.