WORLD – Greeks vote on referendum
Millions of Greeks are voting in a crucial referendum on whether to accept the terms of an international bailout.
The government has urged a “No” vote, but the “Yes” side warns this could see Greece ejected from the Eurozone.
“No one can ignore the will of a people,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said, after voting. First results are expected this evening.
Greeks appear evenly divided over the issue, according to opinion polls. Turnout is expected to be high.
The governing radical-left Syriza party has criticised the bailout terms as humiliating. Its leading figures say rejecting the terms could give them more leverage in talks over the country’s massive debt.
However, international creditors have warned that a “No” vote could choke off vital funding for Greek banks and lead to “Grexit” – a chaotic departure from the common European currency.
The “Yes” campaign has framed the vote in just such terms – as a referendum on Greek membership of the Eurozone.
Banks have been shut and capital controls in place since the start of the week, after the European Central Bank declined to give Greece more emergency funding.
The country’s current bailout then expired on Tuesday and Greece missed a €1.6bn (£1.1bn) payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Casting his ballot, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis described the referendum as “a holy moment” that “gives hope that the common currency and democracy can co-exist”.