Greek polls: Pro-bailout conservatives in first

ATHENS - Parties committed to Greece’s multi-billion-euro bailout are on course to secure a slim parliamentary majority in an election result that could keep the debt-laden country in the euro zone, according to an official vote projection.

By Renee Maltezou And Greg Roumeliotis (Reuters)

Published: Mon 18 Jun 2012, 12:57 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:44 AM

The projection, released by the interior ministry after polls closed on Sunday, showed conservative New Democracy taking 29.5 percent, with the radical leftist SYRIZA bloc just behind on 27.1. The PASOK Socialists were seen on 12.3 percent of the vote.

Because of a 50-seat bonus given to the party which comes in first, that result would give New Democracy and PASOK 161 seats in the 300-seat parliament, in an alliance committed to a 130 billion euro ($164 billion) EU/IMF bailout keeping the country from bankruptcy.

SYRIZA, led by a 37-year-old former communist, has vowed to tear up the punishing terms of the deal, potentially sending the country crashing out of Europe’s single currency and rocking the euro to its core.

The projection was based on votes counted on the spot at about 12 percent of polling stations and sent to the ministry via text message. It proved highly accurate in an earlier May 6 election, which produced stalemate, though the figures are subject to a margin of error which leaves a degree of uncertainty.

“If we were in the United States, we would say it’s too close to call and decline to publish a forecast,” said Costas Panagopoulos of pollster Alco.

Greece’s lenders say a new government must accept the conditions of the bailout - on top of a 110 billion euro package in 2010 - or funds will be cut off, driving Athens into bankruptcy.

A Greek euro exit has the potential to unleash shocks that could even break up Europe’s single currency and plunge the global economy into chaos.

World leaders gathering at a G20 summit starting in Mexico on Monday will be watching with alarm.

Central banks from major economies stand ready to take steps, including coordinated action, to stabilise markets if the election triggers a financial storm or public panic, G20 sources told Reuters last week.

Earlier exit polls produced a similar result to the government projection, giving New Democracy and PASOK 159 seats combined.

More news from WORLD