“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.”

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — 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.

Tsipras gambled the future of his 5-month-old left-wing government on the vote. The opposition accused him 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 70 percent of the votes counted, the “no” side had more than 60 percent. The interior ministry predicted that margin would hold.

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.”

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.”

Read more: AP

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