Defying Troika, Greece Chooses 'Democracy Over Fear' With 'No' Vote on Austerity

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Defying Troika, Greece Chooses 'Democracy Over Fear' With 'No' Vote on Austerity

'For the first time in history, austerity politics have been put to a popular vote and they have been resoundingly rejected,' says Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now

Supporters of the 'No' campaign celebrating in Athens on Sunday as the nation overwhelmingly rejecting austerity. (Photo: Reuters)

Update (2:20 pm EDT):

News outlets are officially reporting that the 'No' side has won a decisive victory in Greece, rejecting a bailout offer from foreign creditors that would have imposed further austerity and economic hardship. 

Reuters reports that government officials "immediately said they would try to restart talks with European partners," perhaps as soon as Sunday night.

At Vox, Matthew Yglesias explores what a "No" vote really means.

"The people of Greece have stood up to the bully boys of the Troika and the violent imposition of their neoliberal policies," said Global Justice Now's Nick Dearden in a statement responding to the early results. "Our deeply unequal global economy relies on ordinary people having no real voice over economic decisions, so this ‘no’ vote  strengthens the battle for a fairer, more humane, people-centred Europe."

He continued: "For the first time in history, austerity politics have been put to a popular vote and they have been resoundingly rejected. We must stand with the people of Greece to secure deep debt cancellation, an end to austerity policies, redistribution of wealth within the EU and serious banking regulation."

Update (1:50 pm EDT):

Less than two hours after the Greek polls closed, the country's Interior Ministry reportedly projected the 'No' side would get more than 60 percent of the vote. 

Follow official, English, live referendum updates here.

Earlier...

Millions of Greek voters went to the polls on Sunday, casting their ballots in a high-stakes referendum that could decide their nation's economic and political future.

"So we get to choose today," wrote Aggeliki Spanou in the Guardian. "Some choice—between a catastrophe and an absolute catastrophe. But at least now we appear to be arriving at a conclusion, of sorts, in contrast to the recent Greek story that has moved from near climax to near climax. Whatever happens, a brutal realisation of national failure is bound to emerge from the ruins, while at the same time we are unable to foretell if yet more failure lies further down the road."

Voters are being asked to accept an austerity-driven bailout proposal from foreign creditors by voting "Yes", or to reject further cuts and austerity by saying "No."

Opinion polls show the outcome as too close to call. There were urgent and ongoing developments throughout the week.

As the Associated Press reports:

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was gambling the future of his 5-month-old left-wing government on the hastily called poll — insisting that a "no" vote would strengthen his hand to negotiate a better deal with creditors while a "yes" result would mean capitulating to their harsh demands.

The opposition accuses Tsipras of jeopardizing the country's membership in the 19-nation club that uses the euro and says a "yes" vote is about keeping the common currency.

But Tsipras, after casting his vote in the working-class district Kypseli, said the vote was about nothing less than the future of Greece—and Europe.

"Today is a day of celebration, because democracy is a celebration, it is joy," he told reporters. "And when democracy overcomes fear and extortion, then it becomes a redemption and a way out. The Greek people today send a very strong message. A message of dignity and determination. The message that they hold a choice in their hands. No one can ignore the will of a people to live. To live with determination and take their life in their own hands."

Tsipras, who is expected to resign if the "Yes" side wins, continued:

I am certain that from tomorrow we will have broken a path for all the peoples in Europe. A path of return to the founding values of democracy and solidarity in Europe, sending a strong message of determination, not only to stay but also to live with dignity in Europe. To do well and work as equals among equals. Let us therefore make this act of strong will, this celebratory act of democracy, an act of determination for a better future for all of us, both in Greece and Europe. I am very optimistic.

Polls close at 7 pm (12 pm EDT), with the first official projection of the result expected at 9 pm.

The Guardian is providing live updates throughout the day.

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