In a landmark referendum, Greek voters rejected a bailout deal on Sunday that was proposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund and would have required greater austerity measures in exchange for emergency funds.
The vote signals a victory for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who promised to reject further austerity when he came to power in January. Although there were rumors from opposition parties that Greece was voting on whether to remain a part of Europe’s joint currency, Tsipras said that the vote was not requiring a “rupture” with Europe.
Following the vote in which over 61 percent of voters favored rejecting a bailout that would lead to greater austerity in the country, Tsipras called the results a “victory of democracy,” and said the country has “proved even in the most difficult circumstances that democracy won’t be blackmailed.”
The New York Times noted that despite several stories from the country’s media- which is “dominated by Greek oligarchs”- about citizens not having access to deposits and losing gasoline and medicine after the European Central Bank severely limited financial assistance to Greek banks a week before the referendum, many voters were “tired of more than five years of soaring unemployment and a collapsing economy,” and did not want to accept the EU’s bailout offer because it would impose even more “pension cuts and tax increases, without debt relief.”
Despite the country’s vote to reject the EU’s bailout, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned on Monday under pressure from European leaders after he infuriated them when he “compared Greece’s creditors to terrorists,” according to The Guardian.
Varoufakis announced his resignation in a blog post, writing that he will considers it his duty to “help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum,” and that he will “wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”
“Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings,” Varoufakis wrote. “An idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.”
Varoufakis, who said that Tsipras thought his absence from Eurogroup meetings could be helpful in “reaching an agreement,” will be replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s deputy foreign minister for international economic affairs.
The Guardian reported that in speculating a further deal, “European leaders are calling on Athens to make the first move,” and while French finance minister Michel Sapin said it was up to the Greek government, Finland’s finance minister Alexander Stubb said talks could only restart when Greece agrees to “necessary reforms,” German chancellor, Angela Merkel, will begin talks with French president François Hollande on Monday evening.
All 19 Eurozone leaders are expected to gather on Tuesday for an emergency summit to discuss possible reform proposals from the Greek authorities.