Exit poll: Greece’s anti-bailout Syriza party wins election

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Exit poll: Greece’s anti-bailout Syriza party wins election

An exit poll on state-run Nerit TV projected Syriza as winning with between 36 and 38 per cent, compared to ND with 26-28 per cent.

By (AP)

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Published: Tue 27 Jan 2015, 1:44 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:59 PM

The anti-bailout Syriza party won a clear victory in austerity-weary Greece’s national elections on Sunday, according to projections by state-run TV’s exit poll, in a historic first for a radical left-wing party in the country.

But it was unclear whether the communist-rooted party, led by 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, had won by a big enough margin over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ incumbent conservatives to govern alone. For that, they need a minimum 151 of parliament’s 300 seats.

Official results from 17.6 per cent of polling stations counted showed Syriza with 35 per cent and Samaras’ New Democracy with 29.3 per cent. An exit poll on state-run Nerit TV projected Syriza as winning with between 36 and 38 per cent, compared to ND with 26-28 per cent.

Earlier projections had given Syriza 146-158 seats in parliament, and New Democracy 65-75 seats.

Tsipras has promised to renegotiate the country’s 240 billion-euro ($270 billion) international bailout deal, and seek forgiveness for most of Greece’s massive debt load. He has pledged to reverse many of the reforms that creditors demanded — including cuts in pensions and the minimum wage, some privatisations and public sector firings — in exchange for keeping Greece financially afloat since 2010.

“What’s clear is we have a historic victory that sends a message that does not only concern the Greek people, but all European peoples,” Syriza party spokesman Panos Skourletis said on Mega television. “There is great relief among all Europeans. The only question is how big a victory it is.”

Skourletis said the election results heralded “a return of social dignity and social justice. A return to democracy. Because, beyond the wild austerity, democracy has suffered.”

Syriza’s anti-bailout rhetoric appealed to many in a country that, in the past five years of its acute financial crisis, has seen a quarter of its economy wiped out, unemployment of above 25 per cent, and average income losses of at least 30 per cent.

But it has also renewed doubts over Greece’s ability to emerge from its financial crisis, and fears that the country’s finances could once again send shockwaves through global markets and undermine the euro, the currency shared by 19 European countries.

Samaras’ New Democracy party conceded defeat not too long after the exit poll was announced.

“We lost,” Health Minister and conservative party parliamentary spokesman Makis Voridis told private Mega TV, adding that the extent of the defeat wasn’t yet clear. He said the government’s austerity policies, implemented to secure vital international bailouts, “make sense” but were cut short before they could bear fruit.

Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis congratulated Syriza, saying its victory “cannot be questioned.”

“It is evident the Greek people believed there is another way forward than the one described by the government,” he said. “For the good of the country, I hope they are right.”

Greeks have faced years of austerity measures, including cuts in wages, pensions and government spending, and tax increases.

Greece’s creditors insist the country must abide by previous commitments to continue receiving support, and investors and markets alike have been spooked by the anti-bailout rhetoric. Greece could face bankruptcy if a solution is not found, although speculation of a “Grexit” — Greece leaving the euro — and a potential collapse of the currency has been far less fraught than during the last general election in 2012.

“There is an expectation of economic relief for many, of a reboot of the economy and there will be a new debate on the servicing of the debt,” Syriza’s Skourletis said. “Europeans have accommodated themselves with the idea.”

Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate outside Syriza’s main electoral kiosk in central Athens, waving flags and cheering.



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