Greeks have voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to reject the terms of an international bailout, risking financial ruin in a show of defiance that could splinter Europe, Reuters reported.
With nearly half of the votes counted, official figures Sunday night showed 61 percent of Greeks rejected the bailout offer.
An interior ministry projection confirmed the figure as close to the expected final tally.
The strong victory by the ‘no’ camp came as a surprise, after opinion polls had predicted an outcome too close to call.
It leaves Greece in uncharted waters: risking financial and political isolation within the eurozone and a banking collapse if creditors refuse further aid.
But for millions of Greeks, the outcome was an angry message to creditors that Greece can longer accept repeated rounds of austerity that, in five years, had left one in four without a job.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has denounced the price paid for aid as “blackmail” and a national “humiliation”.
“This is an imprint of the will of the Greek people, and now it’s up to Europeans to show if they respect our opinion and want to help,” the report quoted Nikos Tarasis, a 23-year-old student, as saying.
Officials from the Greek government, which had argued that a ‘no’ vote would strengthen its hand to secure a better deal from international creditors after months of wrangling, immediately said they would try to restart talks with European partners.
“I believe there is no Greek today who is not proud, because regardless of what he voted, he showed that this country above all respects democracy,” Labor Minister Panos Skourletis was quoted as saying.
But eurozone officials shot down any prospect of a quick resumption of talks.
One official said there were no plans for an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers Monday.
He said the outcome of the vote meant the ministers “would not know what to discuss”.
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