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Leftist Syriza wins Greek election

January 25, 2015

Greece's outgoing prime minister has conceded defeat to the left-wing Syriza party. Syriza's Alexis Tsipras has vowed to renegotiate the country's international bailout, calling for an end to "austerity and humiliation."

Alexis Tsipras of Syriza
Image: Reuters/A.Konstantinidis

Greece's governing conservative New Democracy (ND) party conceded defeat on Sunday as partial official results put the leftist Syriza party at 35.4 percent, a few seats short of an outright 151-seat majority in the 300-seat parliament.

"We lost," said Health Minister Makis Voridis, ND's parliamentary spokesman, adding that austerity moves under defeated Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had made "sense" but were cut short before they could bear fruit.

The conservatives trailed with 28.9 percent, according to results from a quarter of polling stations. Syriza's Alexis Tsipras, 40, is poised to become Greece's youngest prime minister.

Placed level third among 19 parties in Sunday's poll were the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn, whose leaders are in jail pending trial, and the centrist Potami (River) party.

Mixed reactions

Syriza supporters
Tsipras' Syriza party is close to an absolute majorityImage: Reuters/M.Djurica

Election organizers said seven parties in all had cleared a 3-percent threshold to make it into parliament, including the KKE communist party, the PASOK socialists and the nationalist Independent Greeks party.

If the communist-rooted Syriza falls short of a majority, it will have to find a coalition partner or secure pledges of minority support in parliament to govern.

EU finance ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Monday to assess the repercussions of the vote.

German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann on Sunday told German ARD public television that Greece must stick to its repayment obligations.

"I hope that the new Greek government will not make any illusionary promises that the country cannot afford," Weidmann said.

Return to 'social justice'

In Athens, Syriza party spokesman Panos Skourletis said that austerity-weary Greeks had sent a message for "all European peoples" that heralded a return to "social justice."

Reacting from Brussels, the leader of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament Italian Gianni Pittella said Greeks had clearly decided to "break" with the EU's hard policy of austerity that has gripped many southern EU nations.

Campaigning ahead of Sunday's election, Tsipras had toned down his rhetoric on a Greek exit from the eurozone but vowed to renegotiate Greece's 240-billion-euro ($270 billion) bailout imposed since 2010 by a troika made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Bundesbank head Jens Weidmann
Weidmann: Greece must stick to its repayment obligationsImage: Reuters

The past five years have seen Greek unemployment top 25 percent, average income losses of at least 30 percent and industrial output slashed despite privatizations sought under Samaras.

Last year, public debt stood at 175 percent of Greece's gross domestic product (GDP).

Greece's snap election was triggered in December when Samaras failed three times to secure parliamentary backing for his nominee for president.

ipj/cmk (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)