The referendum, and its outcome, was also interpreted by people in different ways. Business owners voted "oxi" to avoid higher taxes. Pensioners voted "oxi" to avoid losing pensions. The unemployed voted "oxi" so that the state could hire them and provide jobs.
"There is a reason countries around the world don't let you hold referendums on fiscal matters" New Democracy MP Niki Kerameus told me when I went to meet her at her office in downtown Athens. "It is very difficult for any citizen to vote yes for more taxes!"
Niki is a rarity in Greek politics. A lawyer by training and a Harvard alum she avoided politics for most of her life. Spurred by the harsh winter of 2011 Niki set up a philanthropic organization to help Greeks hurt by the crisis. Frustrated by the laws around philanthropy, she requested to see then PM Samaras on the issue. He was so impressed with her that she became one of 12 MPs appointed to Parliament based on merit rather than political jockeying.
When asked what was gained by the referendum she responded, "Tsipras was the big victor in the referendum. This was less a referendum than a plebiscite on his popularity." And in a way she is correct. The Greek leader enjoys a double mandate: one from the people and one from the Parliament. The opposition, terrified of a "national disaster" that would occur if Greece were to leave the Euro and the EU, is "acting beyond the strict interests of its party and actively supporting the PM, Tsipras, in bringing an agreement that keeps Greece within Europe," according to Niki.
As the hangover from the celebration of the "oxi" vote subsided, the words "national disaster" became real for regular Greeks. Rumors about banking collapses and "deposit haircuts" (when the government just helps itself to your money in the bank) spread like wildfire.