The heads of the two parties projected to earn the most votes in Greece’s election have called for changes in the country’s international bailout terms, with one seeking to re-negotiate the deal and the other to overturn it.
Updated projections late last night show conservative New Democracy head Antonis Samaras leading with 18.9% and 108 seats in the 300-member parliament, far less than the 151 needed to form a government.
Leftist Syriza head Alexis Tsipras was second with 16.8% and 51 seats, while the former majority PASOK was projected third with 13.4% and 41 seats.
With the New Democracy party set to win top spot, the far right Golden Dawn seemed set to enter parliament for the first time, gaining several seats — a meteoric rise for a party on the fringes of politics until a few months ago.
Days of talks are likely to ensue as parties attempt to hammer out a coalition.
Greece is heavily dependent on billions of euro in international rescue loans from other European countries and the IMF, and must impose yet more austerity measures next month to keep the bailout funds flowing and prevent a default and a potentially disastrous exit from the eurozone.
“The truth is here — the reality of this result is that at the moment this produces no government,” outgoing deputy prime minister and senior PASOK official Theodoros Pangalos said. “It is not a question at the moment of who gets a little more or a little less.”
The outcome is a major blow to PASOK, which won a landslide victory in the last parliamentary elections in 2009 with more than 43%.
PASOK, along with New Democracy, have dominated Greek politics since the fall of the seven-year dictatorship in 1974.
“This is a major political earthquake, that has devastated PASOK,” senior New Democracy official Panos Panagiotopoulos said.
“New Democracy remains the first party but has a very low support number. It is an explosion of anger and despair. The fallout has affected many parties — fairly and unfairly.”
Thirty-two parties were vying for the support of nearly 10m voters, many of whom were undecided on the eve of the election.
Golden Dawn, which has vowed to kick out immigrants and mine Greece’s borders with Turkey, was predicted to win between 6.5% and 7.5%, well above the 3% needed to enter parliament. If borne out, it will be a stunning result for a party that won just 0.23% in the 2009 elections.
“Greek citizens should not fear us, the only ones who should fear us are the traitors,” Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos said.
Whichever party wins the most votes will get a bonus of 50 seats in the 300-member parliament. But with percentages so low and between seven and 10 parties projected to enter parliament, that will not be enough to form a governing majority of 151 seats.
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