Correction appended, July 5
Greeks went to the polls Sunday to cast their votes in the first referendum there in four decades, which may decide the country’s fate as a member of the euro currency.
But fears of a lengthened closure of all banking institutions—regardless of the outcome of the vote—are rife in Greece following a week of shuttered banks and uncertainty. ATM’s are said to be running out of money, and already many are only able to dispense €50 notes due to the shortage of smaller tender—despite capital controls of €60 per person permitted.
Voting ended at 7 p.m. local time, with three opinion polls indicating that the “no” campaign supported by the ruling government had likely prevailed by a narrow margin, the Associated Press reports.
Polls earlier had been too tight to say whether the country is poised to support or reject the bailout plan proposed by Greece’s creditors—never mind the fact that the program has already expired, contributing to a confusing day of voting.
Turnout was expected to exceed the 40% threshold for the result the be deemed legitimate. At issue is whether to accept the terms of an international bailout package that is no longer officially on the table. But the bigger backdrop is the future of the country’s status in Europe and whether Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government will continue to have the political standing to negotiate with European creditors.
Still, a calm, sober mood was prevalent in Athens, save for when Tsipras arrived at his polling booth in his neighborhood of Kipseli, where he was greeted by about 100 rapturous supporters, all chanting “Oxi, Oxi, Oxi”—”No, no no.”
President Prokopis Pavlopoulos is urging Greeks to remain united no matter the result, which will be known later Sunday night.
“This day belongs to the citizen alone,” Pavlopoulos said. “He is called to decide, in accordance to his conscience and exclusively guided by the national best interests, on the future of our country and our people.”
“This is what our forebears did at crucial times and this is our obligation today. We proceed, therefore, all together,” he told reporters and fellow voters while casting his ballot.
People close to the ruling Syriza party told TIME that a return to the drachma currency is inevitable if emergency liquidity assistance is not provided to Greek banks by the European Central Bank (ECB)—a decision to be made by the governing council of the ECB Monday.
There is “no other solution but return to national currency if the ECB doesn’t give us any money for our banks”, a senior party adviser said.
Other European Union officials said that, despite protestations by Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis, banks will reopen on Tuesday.
Lines at ATM machines have remained long and arduous over the last week, with uncertainty as to what the future holds for Greece.
The precise ramifications of a vote in favor of—or against—the referendum are also unclear. When asked by TIME what could be guaranteed in the event of a “No” vote, the Syriza source replied “this is the one-billion-dollar question; it’s also about how the other side reacts.”
Upon arrival at his polling station, Tsipras told supporters that “while many can reject a government’s will, nobody can reject the will of the people.”
The charismatic leader contends that if he’s given a mandate to reject the now non-existent bailout proposal, the government will renegotiate a better new one in the proceeding 48 hours—despite the fact that after six months of negotiations, Greece and its international creditors are further apart than ever before.
Opposition leader Theodoros Fortsakis submitted a legal challenge Sunday morning to the referendum, saying it was unconstitutional. Fortsakis, said there are three specific elements making the vote unconstitutional: there was “not enough time” given to voters to consider the question, “the question is not clear,” and “according to the Greek constitution, no financial questions can be submitted to referendum and it is clear that this is a question directly linked to financial matters.”
Counting begins immediately after voting ends.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the translation of the Greek word “Oxi.” It means “no.”
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