ATHENS, Greece — Europe’s rebel economy has been in a state of limbo since Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shocked the world by calling a referendum on its bailout deal.
Greece goes to the polls on Sunday. A “Yes” vote means approving the bailout deal offered by the country’s European creditors — though it’s not even clear that’s still on offer since Greece’s existing assistance programme ended on June 30.
A “No” vote means turning it down. The government says that would help them in negotiations, but the opposition says it would effectively confirm Greece’s exit from the euro, a so-called Grexit.
The country has been in a strange state for the last week. Much of the country’s normal activity goes on, but there are ATM queues in the background, along with increasingly divided campaigns for and against the bailout, and tension on all sides about what’s coming next.
Scroll down to see what it’s been like on the ground in Athens.
When I arrived on Sunday, the queues were particularly long, even late at night (this picture was taken after midnight). People seemed on-edge.
But the lines have reduced during the week -- short queues are often visible, but rarely with more than 20 or so people, at least in Athens.
The 'No' campaign's most ardent supporters seem to come from a lot of different, small left-wing groups.
The rallies have been huge, with tens of thousands of people turning out for both Yes and No on multiple nights in the week before the referendum.
Most Greeks I've spoken to, even those that have been furious with the German government, are quick to clarify it's the leadership and not the German populace they're angry with.
I've yet to meet anyone who thinks that Greece has been treated reasonably by its creditors -- even the Yes supporters are aware the deal they are offering will be painful.
Despite the depression, parts of central Athens still seem to be thriving. Tills are ringing at shops and restaurants and bars are full until late at night.
But there are clear signs of the crunch, with shuttered stores even on Ermou, Athens' busiest retail street.
Though Greece has parliamentary elections more often than many countries, it hasn't had a referendum since 1974 -- on whether to abolish the monarchy. They voted Yes.
Despite five years of economic depression, Greeks are still overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the euro. Very few on the ground or in polls are actively backing a new drachma.
There's something of a class divide between the Yes and No supporters. At the Yes rally, there were more suit-wearing professionals.
Despite the turmoil, Greece's biggest port, Piraeus, is booming. Car sales have risen by more than a fifth in the year to June.
But Greece still has a trade deficit -- with imports outstripping exports. Demand for Greek goods from abroad has been slumping for the last five years.
Even with the buzzing economic activity at the port, there are still ATM queues all around the harbour.
Another thing that's jarring to outsiders from the UK and US is the use of the hammer and sickle as a political symbol, most often by the KKE, which got 5.5% at the last election.
The popular pictures of riots and violence seen in 2010-12 have been almost completely absent -- though there was a small scuffle with police by a protest group on Friday.
The incident didn't last more than three or four minutes, but it showed just how ready the police are to respond here.
The small crowd at one corner of the rally started to disperse after the police fired tear gas -- the residue of which you can see on the ground here.
One thing the crisis has spawned is creativity -- some of the posters, particularly for the No campaign, have been fantastic.
Wolfgang Schaueble, Germany's finance minister, has been enlisted by the No campaign -- the underlying message being that a Yes vote is a vote for German austerity.
On Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras walked through the huge crowd to speak, and the atmosphere was electric.
What seems to be everyone's primary worry is that society will become divided and the two camps in the referendum will be set against each other permanently.
Despite that, a lot of the younger campaigners I've spoken to are hopeful for their country's future -- even if they know the coming weeks and months look bleak.
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