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Greeks Begin Voting In Historic Resolution


Polls have just closed in Greece where voters cast their votes on a referendum that could determine the future of the economically and politically troubled country. Greeks were asked to choose whether to accept a credit deal that's no longer on the table. It's being interpreted as a de facto vote on Greece's Eurozone membership. European leaders urge Greeks to vote yes, but the Greek government said the vote was about austerity and urged Greeks to vote no. Either way, the country is out of cash and facing default. Joanna Kakissis is at a polling station, and she joins us now on the line from Athens. Hi, Joanna.


NEARY: How is turnout today?

KAKISSIS: Turnout was really steady today. People have been coming to the polls since 7 o'clock. The poll stations haven't been jammed, but they've been busy, and it's on par with what we've seen in previous election dates in Greece.

NEARY: Any sense of when there will be some results?

KAKISSIS: Usually, the results come in, in Greece, after 10 p.m., maybe closer to midnight Greek time. So I doubt we'll know anything until, at least, 10 p.m., maybe 11 p.m. and maybe even later.

NEARY: So if it's a no vote, what do you expect to happen and how soon will you be seeing change there in Greece?

KAKISSIS: Well, if it's a no vote, the government says that it will have a mandate to go to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund and say, we don't want any more austerity. Look, the votes say that. So let's negotiate a deal that doesn't include more austerity and helps the Greek economy grow. But the question is, will the Eurozone and IMF want to come to the table because there have been a lot of bad words exchanged between the two - a lot of angry words exchanged between the Greeks and the Eurozone side.

NEARY: And what about a yes vote?

KAKISSIS: A yes vote would probably mean that this government, which is a left-wing government, would resign because the prime minister says that he cannot carry out any policy that includes austerity - he doesn't believe in it. So if the deal includes austerity measures, he says he does not want to carry that out. So that means new elections, and that would be really hard for Greece right now because it doesn't have the money, first of all, to pay for these elections, and it would - it'd make things even more politically fractured here.

NEARY: What do you think people are most worried about as they're waiting for results?

KAKISSIS: I think most people are worried about if Greece is going to continue to be part of the Eurozone. I think even the no voters are worried about that. I think Greeks really want to remain part of the Eurozone - every poll has shown that at least 60 to 70 percent of Greeks want that. And they're concerned that if there's a no vote, that Greece won't have that same opportunity anymore, that some path will be cut off. And again, if there's a yes vote, they're concerned about political instability that's going to lead, maybe by default, to a Eurozone exit because you won't have a government able to marshal the resources to be able to put together a workable plan to deal with what is a financial crisis and the fact that Greece is almost out of money.

NEARY: Joanna Kakissis, speaking to us from Athens. Thanks so much, Joanna.

KAKISSIS: You're welcome, Lynn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.