Polls are closed in Greece, where voters have been casting their ballots in favour of, or against the European Union-backed bailout and austerity plans for the country. While not a direct vote on membership of the Euro, most economists and commentators suggest that the country could not continue to be a part of the single currency if it rejects the bailout.
Exit ‘polls’ – though not scientific, and conducted by Greek TV companies rather than pollsters – showed a narrow lead for the ‘No’ camp, with a predicted turnout of around 61 per cent. A GPO poll for Mega Gegonota predicts a 48.5 per cent ‘Yes’ vote, and a 51.5 per cent ‘No’ vote, but as results came in over the course of the evening, it turned out the result wasn’t set to be so close after all.
As of 11:45pm Central European Time, the ‘No’ or ‘Oxi’ camp is set to win the vote by 61-39 per cent.
Live updates are now finished:
UPDATE 11:32pm CET: Be honest, you’ve been waiting for a video of Greeks celebrating like this.
Go home Athens, you’re drunk. pic.twitter.com/nnSbYeCzMb
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) July 5, 2015
UPDATE 11:29pm CET: Here’s a breakdown of the Eurozone’s financial exposure to Greek default, country by country.
UPDATE 11:23pm CET: Further banking opinion, this time JP Morgan’s reported view.
JPMorgan: After the “big no” it is now a race between 2 forces: political pressure 4 a deal, vs impact of banking dysfunction within #Greece
— Efthimia Efthimiou (@EfiEfthimiou) July 5, 2015
UPDATE 11:10pm CET: The Financial Times has collated the initial opinions of various banking analysts. George Saravelos at Deutsche Bank, who gloomily concludes that “the range and probability of unpredictable outcomes to the Greek crisis has again materially increased this evening”. He also wrote:
Credibility and trust between Europe and Greece has been seriously damaged this week. Negotiations around an ESM program will be even more difficult. Over the next few hours, both sides’ willingness to re-start negotiations and under what conditions remains the most important next step. Beyond that, it is the increasing pressure on the Greek economy and people via a frozen banking system and capital controls that will drive the speed of developments. Decisions have to be taken soon on whether to return to the path of negotiations or consider the alternative of a Eurozone exit.
Barclays’ analysts believe Grexit is the most likely outcome, but warns of two other scenarios:
We see two possibilities, even if both are less likely than an exit. Europe and Greece could agree on a programme on the IMF’s terms. A more disruptive scenario would be one in which financial and macroeconomic conditions rapidly worsen and social unrest could result in a political crisis, yielding a more moderate pro-deal government.
UPDATE 11:04PM CET: The European Commission has released a press release with its initial reaction.
The European Commission takes note of and respects the result of the referendum in Greece. President Juncker is consulting tonight and tomorrow with the democratically elected leaders of the other 18 Eurozone members as well as with the Heads of the EU institutions. He will have a conference call among the “Euro-Institutionals” (with the President of the Euro Summit, the President of the Euro Group and the President of the European Central Bank) on Monday morning. He intends to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
UPDATE 10:55PM CET: It seems the ATM queues show no signs of shortening.
UPDATE 10:44PM CET: Bloomberg reports ‘Euro Drops as Greece Votes ‘No’ To Austerity Demands’
The first shock waves from Greek voters’ rejection of austerity were felt in the currency markets, with the euro falling against major peers and Australia’s dollar sliding to a six-year low. Analysts are tipping a flight to safety, with Treasuries and German bunds to benefit. The euro lost 1.1 percent to $1.0992 by 6:12 a.m. Tokyo time, touching its weakest level since June 29. The currency slipped 1.7 percent against the yen and 1 percent versus the pound. The Aussie fell as much as 0.9 percent to 74.52 U.S. cents, the first time it’s broken 75 cents since 2009, as the referendum result dimmed the appeal of higher-yielding assets. New Zealand’s dollar slipped 0.6 percent, even after China stepped up efforts at the weekend to arrest a stock selloff.
UPDATE 9:50PM CET: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appears in jubilant form this evening:
— Alexis Tsipras (@tsipras_eu) July 5, 2015
UPDATE 8:54PM CET: Initial reports on the ground are that the atmosphere in town and city centres is jubilant and celebratory rather than hostile or aggressive. The ‘No’ or ‘Oxi’ flags are waving alongside Syriza banners. UPDATE 8:46PM CET: It’s basically a done deal. With 68 per cent of districts reporting, the ‘No’ camp looks to have secured around 62 per cent of the vote. Now comes the hard part… which is figuring out what happens next. The likes of European Parliament President will want Greece off the Euro altogether, while others will see it as the first domino to fall if Greece leaves. Here’s something for the finance nerds. UPDATE 8:20PM CET: 60 per cent of the votes have now been counted, and victory for the ‘no’ camp now seems assured and steady at 61 per cent. Six per cent of ballots were spoilt or unmarked. UPDATE 7:10PM CET: With 30 per cent of the votes counted, the ‘No’ camp is at 61 per cent, and the ‘Yes’ to the bailout deal side at 39 per cent. UPDATE 6:33PM CET: The Greek government’s referendum results website shows that with almost 20 per cent of electoral districts reporting, the ‘No’ camp is ahead by 60 per cent to 40 per cent. New exit surveys are pushing the ‘No’ result even higher, to around 57 per cent. UPDATE 6:04PM CET: Could it be the youth vote that swung it?
UPDATE 6:00PM CET: Reuters reports that the head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has told German radio: “Is Greece still in the euro after this referendum? That is certainly the case, but if they say ‘no’ they will have to introduce another currency after the referendum because the euro is not available as a means of payment.”
UPDATE 5:53PM CET: UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said tonight on Greek referendum polls: “If these poll figures are correct, I commend the Greek people for calling the EU’s bluff. The EU project is now dying. It’s fantastic to see the courage of the Greek people in the face of political and economic bullying from Brussels.”
Voting began this morning at 7am Central European Time, with a fiercely fought campaign on the streets of Greece playing out in the week before the referendum.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has made no secret of his wishes for his countrymen to vote ‘No’ or ‘Oxi’, while pro-EU campaigners have been urging a ‘Nai’ or ‘Yes’ vote to the bailout measures to keep Greece a part of the currency union.
It seems to be the consensus that no matter what happens in today’s vote, Greece’s economy is set for more problems. While leaving the Euro may allow for currency controls and devaluations for the country, there is still the problem of Greek’s massive national debt, which it has already defaulted on to the International Monetary Fund and other creditors.
But the result of the referendum has already been called into question, with legal experts claiming that it should not stand. Greek’s courts are not yet decided on the matter, and if the country votes yes, then Prime Minister Tsipras may have to leave his job anyway, heralding yet more instability for the country.
The latter may be the Eurocrats’ preferred choice however. As they have done previously in country’s like Italy, a change in ‘leadership’ can often bring about a fresh wave of pro-EU thinking. Critics suggest that Europe’s scant concern for national, sovereign democracies will ultimately be its downfall.
Official results are due in around 9pm European time, which is 2pm on the East Coast of the U.S.