The somewhat stressful experience of being an expat on the sidelines of this Greferendum morphed into a hopeful, proud feeling for Greece – the place I’ve called home for the past six years. The oxi win became a reality.
Oxi (no) turned out to be a comfortable majority at 61 percent of the vote. What Greeks voted to reject was the austerity package that that the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission insisted was needed to justify further rescue loans. In the end, Greeks told Germany to get outta town. Rightly so, austerity has it limits. I know first-hand, living here from the very start of the crisis, austerity wasn’t working. Too many people close to me have been affected. They’ve spoken – they’ve had enough.
After the polls closed, my Facebook feed became filled with delight from fellow oxi supporter friends. It was given the open, public party would be in Syntagma Square. That’s one thing I love about Greeks. They love to have a good time.
It was like going to a big block party except everyone was Greek. In the States, block parties are a community party with food and music so you get to know your neighbors that live on your block or street. Well, this one took up the center square of the city and a few streets surrounding it. It was the same place where the last oxi rally took place, a rally that gathered an impressive 25,000 people. The celebration wasn’t as big but still, Athenians came out in thousands. There were street vendors, international press and lots of happy, dancing and singing Greek people. Here’s a minute long video collage of the oxi party.
It was well-deserved. Like I wrote in my last post, the population had so much propaganda to deal with over the past week. The private TV channels had an obviously clear bias toward nai. I couldn’t even open the Internet without getting barraged with slick nai ads. Oxi turned out to be a movement of the streets. As the events have shown today, oxi was always about getting a better deal for the Greek people that have suffered enough.
The referendum vote results prove that the expensive fear mongering didn’t work on the majority of the people. I am amazed at that. How resilient are the Greeks?! Even after all those doomsday scenarios being thrown around, here we are. Greece is still standing, and it’s still beautiful. Most of all, there is new hope for change. Prime Minister Tsipras is proving to be a strong, forward thinking leader unlike most politicians in this world. The dramatic resignation of Greece’s finance minister Yannis Varoufakis today proves that movement leaders are not about the spotlight but the cause. He’s leaving to help Tsipras get a better deal for Greece. You can read more about that in his resignation statement. The markets agreed, strengthening the euro against the dollar.
I won’t get into more of the political developments in this post. This is all just to express my pride in Greece right now. The road ahead clearly isn’t easy for this little country.
What makes me smile is that the Greeks who voted oxi voted with hope rather than fear. There’s so much unknown for them. Taking that leap of faith and aiming for change isn’t easy to do, no matter where you are in the world.
The message Greece sent out to Europe and the world is strong, powerful and shows what is possible. We can learn from the Greek people that hope is within us all. This is why we are all Greeks.