Greece defiantly rejects Europe's bailout offer

Last Updated Jul 6, 2015 12:34 AM EDT

ATHENS, Greece - Voters in Greece sent shockwaves through Europe on Sunday by resoundingly rejecting creditors' demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans. The vote backs Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted a "no" in a referendum on the offered bailout terms would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal.

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

With 87 percent of the votes counted, the "no" side had more than 60 percent.

As a result of the vote, the value of the euro tumbled again. The European currency slumped to $1.0993 late Sunday, when spot trading resumed, from $1.1110 late Friday.

Early trading on Asian markets indicated investors were alarmed, as stock indexes fell.

European Council President Donald Tusk said he's called an emergency eurozone summit for Tuesday to discuss the situation in Greece, which Germany and France have requested.

"Today we celebrate the victory of democracy," Tsipras, who gambled the future of his 5-month-old left-wing government on the vote, said in an address to the nation.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Sunday night that creditors planned from the start to shut down banks to humiliate Greeks and force them to make a statement of contrition for showing that debt and loans are unsustainable.

On Sunday night's result, he said that "'no' is a big 'yes' to democratic Europe. It's a no to the vision of Europe an infinite cage for its people. It is a loud yes to the vision of the Eurozone as a common area of prosperity and social justice."

Thousands of government supporters gathered in central Athens in celebration, waving Greek flags and chanting "No, No, No."

Despite looming disaster, Giorgos Karagiannakis told CBS News correspondent Holly Williams he voted "no" to the extended bailout, because Greece needs to negotiate a better deal with its foreign creditors.

"We need them to help us we are in a dire situation," Karagiannakis said. "Okay, I get that. But they have to understand that right now, the poor people, they can't take it any more."

Governing left-wing Syriza party Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis said that "Greek people are proving they want to remain in Europe" as equal members "and not as a debt colony." The referendum was Greece's first in 41 years.

Minister of State Nikos Papas, speaking on Alpha television, said it would be "wrong to link a 'no' result to an exit from the eurozone. If a 'no' prevails that will help us get a better agreement."

There are however, many Greeks like Marina Birdimiri, who told CBS News she believes that without the bailout, Greece could face catastrophe - and be forced to leave the single European currency.

"My worst fears are that Greece is going to go back like 60 years," Birdimiri said. "That my daughter who is 2.5, she's going to have to grow up the way my parents, my father grew up grew up."

Tsipras' high-stakes brinkmanship with lenders from the eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund resulted in Greece defaulting on its debts this week and shutting down its banks to avoid their collapse. He called the referendum last weekend, giving both sides just a week to campaign.

"Today, democracy is defeating fear ... I am very optimistic," Tsipras said earlier in the day after voting in in Athens.

European officials had openly urged Greeks to vote against the government's recommendation.

"I hope people say 'yes,'" European Parliament President Martin Schulz told German public radio. "If after the referendum, the majority is a 'no,' they will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment."

Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt was one of the first eurozone ministers to react to the initial results.

"This likely 'no' complicates matters," he told Belgium's VRT network, but insisted the door remained open to resume talks with the Greek government within hours.

The vote was held amid banking restrictions imposed last Monday to halt a bank run, with Greeks queuing up at ATMs across the country to withdraw a maximum 60 euros per day. Banks have been shut all week, and it is uncertain when they will reopen. Large lines once again formed at ATMs on Sunday.

greece.jpg
People stand in a queue to use an ATM outside a closed bank, next to a sign on the plant, bottom right, reading ''NO'' in Athens, Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
AP

Daniel Tsangaridis, a 35-year-old Athens resident, said he didn't expect banks to reopen soon, despite a government pledge that they would do so Tuesday.

"It's not going to happen in the next 48 hours," he said. "If the situation improves and we can have a deal, then the banks will open."

Police say about 100-150 anarchist protesters have started throwing firebombs at riot police and setting trash cans on fire in the central Athens neighborhood of Exarcheia.

This is far from the place where celebrations are taking place by supporters of the "no" vote in Sunday's referendum. There was no indication that the violence was connected to the political campaigns involved in the vote.

The Syriza party came to power in January after a six-year recession. Since then, the standoff between Athens and its international lenders has grown more bitter, and early signs of some economic growth and recovering employment in Greece have disappeared.

The debt-wracked nation also suffered repeated ratings downgrades and lost access to billions of euros after its existing bailout deal expired last week.

The sense of urgency was palpable as Greeks struggled to decipher a convoluted referendum question after being bombarded with frenzied messages warning of the country's swiftly approaching financial collapse.

Neither result on Sunday, however, would lead to a clear answer on what Greece should do about its overstretched finances.

Greece is no longer in a bailout program since its previous package expired last Tuesday. It now has to negotiate a new one with its creditors that involves even more money for the government and banks and new economic austerity measures.

Despite the Greek government's assertion that a "no" vote will not lead to a euro exit, most experts agree it would open up more uncertain financial outcomes.

A number of European politicians, including Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the top eurozone official, have said a "no" vote would jeopardize Greece's place in the 19-nation eurozone. Investors are also likely to believe a "no" win increases the chance of a so-called "Grexit," where Greece returns to its own old currency.