Where will Greece go from ‘No’?

Greek voters rejected the terms of the European bailout plan in the country's first national referendum since 1974. PBS NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant joins Hari Sreenivasan from Athens with more on where the country goes from here.

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    We start with Greece, where officials are projecting that more than 60 percent of voters have rejected austerity measures proposed by creditors.

    Crowds are rallying in the streets, celebrating the early returns. The no-vote means Greeks do not want to make the deep budget cuts in order to get emergency bailout money as the nation falls deeper into debt.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that — quote — "The mandate you have given me does not call for a break with Europe, but, rather, gives me greater negotiating strength."

    "PBS NewsHour" special correspondent Malcolm Brabant joins us from Athens.

    First of all, the reaction on the streets. I can almost hear them behind you in the Constitution Square.


    There is euphoria on the streets of Athens tonight, because this result is entirely consistent with the Greeks' natural tendency towards resistance.

    And this is something that appeals to their national character. At this stage, most people thought that they really had nothing more to lose. They have endured five years of austerity, really tough times. And the genuine — the genuine feeling here is that things can't get any worse.

    But what is happening tonight is really a step into the unknown, because nobody really knows what is going to be the consequence of this.


    The voters that you spoke with, were they clear exactly on what a no-vote and what a yes-vote meant as they went to the polls?


    I think most people distilled this down to being a yes-vote meaning that there will be absolutely more austerity, that there will be years of pain, whereas I think some people believed that a no-means that there will be a renegotiation, that perhaps that the terms might be better.

    There may have been others who think that, by voting no, they will basically be writing off this debt. But they seem to believe the government when they say that Mr. Tsipras will be able to go back to Brussels with a stronger hand.

    But the country is in really a dire position financially. I was talking to a financial consultant tonight who said that the banks basically are running out of paper money, and there may be nationalization of the banks in the next few days if — if the situation continues.


    Right, because even with this vote, Greece still has another loan payment coming in a couple of weeks, right?


    It's got several payments coming up.

    And without any new money coming in, there's absolutely no way that Greece can make those payments. So, they're going to continue to be in default. But what I think the Greeks are hoping for is that something that the IMF has mentioned over the past week or so, in that there's going to have to be some sort of debt restructuring, because all of the money that has been poured into Greece via the Troika, which is this conglomeration of organizations which has been funding Greece, all of the money that has gone in, virtually all of it has gone to servicing the debt.

    And only a very, very small percentage has actually gone towards boosting the economy. So, basically, what the IMF is saying is that Greece has to have a — maybe a 10- or 15- or 20-year break from paying back any money, so that it can basically have a breathing space and get back on its feet.

    And, now, this is something that's got to be worked out with the Europeans, who really don't like that idea at all.


    So, when you talked to voters tonight after they went to the polls, after they cast their ballots, did you see any patterns in how it broke down, say, the young vs. the old voting in one direction vs. the other?


    Well, you do have young people having a very, very strong voice, because they have been the most disadvantaged throughout this period of austerity.

    The levels of unemployment really are totally un — intolerable for them. Most people under the age 35 are unemployed. The figure is over 50 percent young — of young people are unemployed.

    Now, this is a country with a highly educated young population. And there's been a huge brain drain. This is becoming a country of old people. And so what the young people have been doing is saying, you know, we are voting for our future. We want to renegotiate. And if that means fighting and suffering a little bit longer, we're prepared to do that.

    But, as I said, this really is a step into the unknown.


    All right, Malcolm Brabant joining us from Athens tonight, thanks so much.

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