World

Greece remains starved for cash as it celebrates decisive vote against bailout in referendum

  • Supporters of the No vote wave Greek flags after the referendum's exit polls at Syntagma square in Athens, Sunday, July 5, 2015. Greece faced an uncharted future as officials counted the results of a referendum Sunday on whether to accept creditors' demands for more austerity in exchange for rescue loans, with three opinion polls showing a tight race with a narrow victory likely for the "no" side. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

    Supporters of the No vote wave Greek flags after the referendum's exit polls at Syntagma square in Athens, Sunday, July 5, 2015. Greece faced an uncharted future as officials counted the results of a referendum Sunday on whether to accept creditors' demands for more austerity in exchange for rescue loans, with three opinion polls showing a tight race with a narrow victory likely for the "no" side. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)  (The Associated Press)

  • A supporter of the No vote waves a Greek flag in front of the parliament after the results of the referendum at Syntagma square in Athens, Sunday, July 5, 2015. Greeks overwhelmingly rejected creditors' demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans in a critical referendum Sunday, backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted the vote would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

    A supporter of the No vote waves a Greek flag in front of the parliament after the results of the referendum at Syntagma square in Athens, Sunday, July 5, 2015. Greeks overwhelmingly rejected creditors' demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans in a critical referendum Sunday, backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted the vote would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)  (The Associated Press)

  • Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives to meet Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos after the results of the referendum at the Presidential Palace in Athens, early Monday, July 6, 2015. Voters in Greece resoundingly rejected creditors' demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans Sunday, backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted the vote would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives to meet Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos after the results of the referendum at the Presidential Palace in Athens, early Monday, July 6, 2015. Voters in Greece resoundingly rejected creditors' demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans Sunday, backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted the vote would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)  (The Associated Press)

Greeks awoke Monday to the stark reality of the country's accelerating crisis — shuttered banks and ATMs with little cash — hours after they voted resoundingly to reject more austerity measures in exchange for another bailout.

The results — 61 percent voted "no," compared with 39 percent for "yes" — left the bankrupt country's future in the European Union and its euro currency uncertain.

The margin of victory for "no" was far wider than expected. But as celebrations died down early Monday, Greece entered a second week of severe restrictions on financial transactions and faced the prospect of even limited amounts of cash drying out, with no prospect of an immediate infusion. Greece imposed the restrictions to stem a bank run after the vote was called and its bailout program expired.

Besieged by a prolonged recession, high unemployment and banks dangerously low on capital, Greece defaulted on an International Monetary Fund loan repayment last week, becoming the first developed nation to do so. Now some analysts wonder if Greece is so starved of cash that it could be forced to start issuing its own currency and become the first country to leave the 19-member eurozone, established in 1999.

Asian markets mostly fell Monday, as economists said the markets were not expecting such a decisive "no" vote and that could send stocks downward.

The European Central Bank's governing council was not expected to provide more liquidity assistance to Greek banks Monday. The assistance, now at about 90 billion euros, has been maintained but not increased in past days, leaving the country's financial system in a stranglehold. Without an increase, Greeks probably will not be able to withdraw even the meager 60 euros ($67) allocated per day.

That will make it difficult for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to keep his pledge, expressed on TV and on his twitter account, that Greece's "immediate priority is to restore our banking system's functioning & economic stability" or for banks to re-open Tuesday, as scheduled.

After Tsipras called for the referendum, negotiations on a financial rescue package broke off with Greece's creditors: other European countries that use the euro, the IMF and the European Central Bank. It's unclear when they could restart, but the Tsipras government has said it believed a deal with creditors could be reached within 48 hours of the vote.

Key European leaders were regrouping. The Eurogroup — experts from the finance ministries of the 19 states that have adopted the euro — was set to meet. And EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem and ECB President Mario Draghi planned to hold a teleconference to discuss the Greek case. A summit of Eurozone leaders was set to convene Tuesday afternoon.

In Greece, leaders of six of the seven parties represented in Parliament were meeting Monday morning in the presidential palace. Tsipras requested the meeting to share his negotiating strategy and call for support.

The main opposition party, New Democracy, was sending an interim chief, after its leader — former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras — resigned Sunday as "no" votes poured in.

None of these developments stopped jubilant government supporters' from celebrating into the night in Syntagma Square in front of Parliament, waving Greek flags and chanting "No, no, no!"

Tsipras was vindicated after gambling the future of his 5-month-old coalition government — and his country — in an all-or-nothing game of brinkmanship with Greece's creditors.

"Today we celebrate the victory of democracy," Tsipras said in a televised address, describing Sunday as "a bright day in the history of Europe."

"We proved even in the most difficult circumstances that democracy won't be blackmailed," he said.

Tsipras had vowed that a "no" vote would strengthen his hand to negotiate a better deal for his country. But European officials and most of Greece's opposition parties painted the referendum as one of whether the country kept using the euro currency — even though that was not the convoluted question asked on the ballot. Opinion polls Friday showed that 74 percent or more want their country to remain in the euro.

Tsipras told Greeks in his address that he would negotiate a viable solution with the country's creditors.

How European officials react to the referendum result will be critical for the country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande spoke to each other Sunday night and agreed "that the vote of the Greek people must be respected," Merkel's office said.

Dijsselbloem, the Eurogroup head, said Sunday's referendum result was "very regrettable for the future of Greece."

The Dutch finance minister had been a steadfast opponent of Greece as it sought better conditions during five months of bailout negotiations. "For recovery of the Greek economy, difficult measures and reforms are inevitable," he said. "We will now wait for the initiatives of the Greek authorities."

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's vice chancellor and economic minister, told a German newspaper the Greek government was leading its people "onto a path of bitter austerity and hopelessness."

Tsipras has "torn down the last bridges, across which Europe and Greece could move toward a compromise," Gabriel told the daily Tagesspiegel. "By saying 'no' to the eurozone's rules, as is reflected in the majority 'no' vote, it's difficult to imagine negotiations over an aid package for billions."

Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt was somewhat softer in his approach, saying a "no" result "complicates matters," but that the door remained open to resume talks immediately.

"What we certainly don't want to do is to take decisions that will threaten the monetary union," he told Belgium's VRT. "Within that framework we can start talks again with the Greek government, literally, within hours."

The international bailout — under which it received nearly 240 billion euros in rescue loans — expired last week.

The margin of victory was likely to strengthen the young prime minister's defiance toward Europe. Tsipras was voted into office in January on a promise to repeal bailout austerity.

"This victory for the 'no' camp will unfortunately embolden the government, but is likely to do little to convince the creditors that Tsipras is a trustworthy negotiating partner who has any ability to implement a deal," said Megan Greene, chief economist of Manulife Asset Management.

"Any deal for Greece will involve a much larger fiscal adjustment than the one on which Greeks voted today. I don't think that Germany in particular will be willing to make any concessions for Tsipras."

Opposition conservative New Democracy lawmaker Vangelis Meimarakis said he was expecting Tsipras to keep his pledge for a quick deal.

"If we don't have an agreement within 48 hours as the prime minister promised, then we are being led to a tragedy," he said.

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Online:

Official referendum website: http://www.referendum2015gov.gr/en/

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Derek Gatopoulos, Costas Kantouris and Menelaos Hadjicostis in Athens, Raf Casert in Brussels, Frank Jordans in Berlin and Carlo Piovano in London contributed to this report.