Initial results show ‘No’ campaign leading in Greek referendum

Athens, (IANS) Initial results of Greek’s referendum on the signing of a new debt deal with creditors showed the “No” campaign leading by a significant margin, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Of the 14.09 percent of votes counted till 8:33 p.m. on Sunday, 60.15 percent were “No” votes, while 39.85 percent were “Yes” votes, the ministry said, according to ANA-MPA news agency.

In the first estimates after the polling stations closed for voting, polling firms said that ‘No’ was expected to lead by 3-4 percent in the historic referendum that is expected to decide whether Greece will avert a looming disorderly default and possible Grexit which could shake the euro zone.

“NO” was expected to garner 52 percent of votes against 48 percent for “YES”, according to the survey conducted by Metron Analysis polling firm private television ANT1 TV.

GPO experts gave a 51.5 percent to “NO” versus 48.5 percent to “YES”, according to the estimates presented at MEGA TV.

“NO” was also leading by 51 against 48 for “YES” in Marc’s survey for ALPHA TV.

In the poll carried out by MRB polling firm the percentages respectively were 49-54 percent for “NO” against 46-51 percent for “YES”, according to STAR TV.

MARC pollsters projected 49.5-54.5 percent for “NO” versus 45. 5-50.5 percent for “YES”, according to ALPHA TV channel.

All results were based on telephone interviews conducted on Saturday and Sunday instead of the traditional exit polls outside exit booths, according to Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to France on Monday for a meeting with French President Francois Hollande to discuss the Greek debt crisis, said a spokesperson of the German government on Sunday.

“A joint assessment of the situation after the Greek referendum” will be one of the issues of her talks with Hollande, spokesperson Steffen Seibert said.

Greek citizens on Sunday voted in a historic referendum to choose whether or not to accept a debt deal proposal tabled in late June by the country’s lenders.

Polling stations, about 19,000 in number, opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m. The first official estimates by the interior ministry were expected at around 9 p.m., Xinhua reported.

Earlier in the day, Greece President Prokopis Pavlopoulos appealed to the citizens to remain united regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s vote, according to ANA-MPA news agency.

According to the Greek ministry of internal affairs and administrative reform, about 8.5 million people were eligible to vote in the referendum.

Opinion surveys ahead of the voting showed that the electorate was evenly divided between “YES” and “NO”. Polling firms did not conduct traditional exit polls outside polling booths as the result was too close to call.

Casting their ballots on Sunday, all political leaders urged Greeks, irrespective of the results, to face the next day united to overcome the crisis.

Ahead of the referendum, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged the Greek people to say “No” to the proposals and that the “No” vote would be the chief argument which the government would use as the basis for improving the parameters of the agreement during further consultations with the creditors.

Main opposition conservative party leader Antonis Samaras called on Greeks to “vote YES to Greece, YES to Europe.”

Voters were given two ballots, one with the question of the referendum and a blank one. Citizens were required to write a cross either in the box under their preferred response, or on the left or right of their response.

According to unofficial estimates from the interior ministry shortly before the polls closed, the turnout was likely to reach 60 percent.

Since July 1 Greece is already in arrears to the International Monetary Fund — and without the safety net of the bailout programme that kept it afloat over the past five years — is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

According to the interior ministry, the Greek referendum cost about 20 million euros.

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