Celebrations took place in Syntagma Square in front of the Greek parliament and around the surrounding streets long into the night last Sunday.
In a referendum watched by the world, voters gave a resounding no to a new austerity deal proposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
Lawyer Tonia told Socialist Worker, “Today all of Greece is celebrating because democracy is celebrating in the place that it was born.”
Unemployed Theodosis said, “We’ve made it to the finals for the European championship of class war.”
People cheered and sang the songs of the revolt against Greece’s dictatorship, along with revolutionary song The Internationale.
Teacher Sofia had been counting ballots at a polling station mainly used by police officers.
She told Socialist Worker, “The Yes votes just kept coming “in. I was convinced they had won.
“When I first heard No had won I couldn’t believe it—so I jumped for joy once I knew the celebrations had started.”
Unemployed anti-racist activist Panos said, “This is a victory against a Europe where International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde gets £300,000 a year while people go hungry and migrants drown at the border.”
More than 1,000 of the anti-capitalists who were central to getting the vote out marched in from the university area chanting revolutionary slogans.
Holding their banner, student Artemis told Socialist Worker, “Now it’s time to take everything back—our jobs, our dignity, all the things they cut from us over the last five years.”
The vote brought relief from the bitterness of life under austerity.
Ana, unemployed with no benefits, said, “I have to get my food from charities—it’s an assault on my dignity.”
The vote was in defiance of concerted pressure from the banks, the media—and bosses who tried to blackmail their employees.
Ana said, “My friend believed the propaganda and told me that if we voted no we’d lose our pensions.
“I told her we’d definitely lose them if we voted for more of this.”
Depi works at state broadcaster ERT.
On the night that left wing party Syriza was elected in January, she spoke to Socialist Worker inside the studio that workers were running themselves in a fight to overturn its closure.
They have now won—but are back with their old bosses and the scabs.
Depi told Socialist Worker, “They made threats about what would happen to us if Yes won. It would have meant the bosses’ revenge.
“My friend works for the council radio station, and she was told she’d be fired if she talked about the No campaign.
“The private channels poured out propaganda, the regulator did nothing.
“There was a lot of blackmail. But people have seen they have the power.
“Now I’m very happy, it’s a big victory and an historic night.”
Some of those backing the Yes campaign made no secret of wanting to topple the government—and this hardened many workers’ resolve to defend it.
Nikos Maliaris, a well-known former footballer who now organises Syriza’s athletes group, told Socialist Worker, “It’s a big expression of solidarity for the government. Now we have to build on this unity.”
But while the government is using the referendum as a negotiating tactic to get a slightly better deal with less austerity, many people were voting no to austerity at all.
Artemis said, “Now it’s time to press the Syriza government not to make a new agreement but to end austerity and leave the EU.”
Thousands join protests in solidarity
Working class people across the world showed solidarity with people in Greece in the run-up to the referendum.
Some 500 people rallied in central London last Saturday. Many Greeks joined the protest.
Protester Maria said, “I don’t care if we leave the EU—I think we’d be better off with the drachma.
“Not everyone who will vote no is on the left but people are desperate and angry against austerity.”
Over 800 people joined a protest at the European Commission offices in Edinburgh last Saturday and marched to the Scottish parliament.
Marchers chanted, “From Scotland to Greece—no justice, no peace!”
Myrto from Syriza Scotland said, “OXI has sparked a global movement of solidarity and resistance. This is just the beginning.”
Around 500 protested in Glasgow on Thursday of last week.
Protesters chanting, “OXI!” interrupted a speech by German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin last Saturday.
Hundreds more protested in Melbourne. And thousands marched in Dublin last Saturday chanting, “Athens, Athens we’re with you—we’re against the Troika too.”
Solidarity protests also took place in Paris, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome and Brussels.