Sunday, July 5, 2015

Greek Referendum

Greece voted today on a proposed expansion of the country’s austerity program. There are no fans of austerity in a country facing a seemingly endless depression, but of course the question is not as simple as that. The other implications will continue to be debated even after the outcome of the vote is known. The polls are closed and the counting has started. No one seems to know how the voting will stack up at the end of the night. I’ll be following tonight’s results on these news sites:

6 pm UTC: It’s early with a quarter of the votes in, and I want to be cautious, but I think it’s telling that No is ahead by more than 10 points in most of the places reporting so far. No voters are celebrating in the streets.

6:30 pm UTC: With 41% counted, No is ahead 61-39. It’s not the long night that some reporters had anticipated, but a landslide for No.

7 pm UTC: Unchanged vote margins with half of the vote counted.

7:30 pm UTC: The euro is down more than 1 percent in early trading.

8:15 pm UTC: One minor German official has called the Greek referendum illegal. The more important officials are apparently comparing notes and will have nothing to say until Monday afternoon. By remaining silent European officials risk creating the impression that no one has a plan, and that could rattle stock markets Monday morning.

Post-election polls suggest that voters under 30, heavily opposed, not only turned out in large numbers but also persuaded some of their elders to switch their votes from Yes to No.

11 pm UTC: With 95 percent of the vote counted, the near-final margins remain 61-39. Both the vote outcome and its decisiveness appear to have caught the EU off guard. If the EU’s plan B was, as widely speculated, to sit back and wait for Greece to change its mind (or collapse), that will have to be rethought now. A Eurogroup crisis meeting is set for Tuesday.