Greek parties vow bailout changes as votes come in

 

Greeks angered by a vicious and protracted financial crisis punished the parties that have dominated politics for decades Sunday, with projected election results showing them hemorrhaging support to anti-bailout groups and no party gaining enough ballots to form a government.

Responding quickly to the protest vote, the heads of the parties in first and second place pledged to seek to either renegotiate the terms of Greece's multibillion dollar international bailout agreement or overturn it. 

More than two years of repeated austerity measures in return for bailout loans from other European Union countries and the IMF have pushed Greece into a deep recession that has seen the jobless rate explode and tens of thousands of businesses close. The misery has infuriated voters who on Sunday dealt a massive blow to the decades-old dominance of the country's two main parties, the socialist PASOK and conservative New Democracy. 

The two, which have alternated in power since the end of the seven-year dictatorship in 1974, had managed to coexist in an uneasy alliance for the past six months as a governing coalition cobbled together to secure a second bailout deal and the biggest debt writedown in history. 

Official projections Sunday showed New Democracy winning 18.9 percent, giving it 108 seats in the 300-member parliament — far short of the 151 needed to form a government. The anti-bailout left-wing Syriza party was projected second with 16.8 percent and 51 seats, and the formerly majority socialist PASOK lagged behind with 13.4 and 41 seats. 

The extremist far-right Golden Dawn party, which ran on an anti-immigrant platform and wants landmines along Greece's borders, is projected to win 7 percent of the vote, giving it 22 deputies in Parliament — a massive gain for a party that until a few months ago was on the fringes of Greek politics. 

With no outright majority, a coalition government will have to be formed. If successive efforts by the top three parties fail, the country will head into new elections — a prospect that has alarmed Greece's international creditors. 

Both New Democracy head Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos voiced support for a coalition — but with certain caveats. 

"The fact that New Democracy is the first party increases its responsibility, as it is now the only pillar of political stability in Greece," Samaras said. "We are ready to take up the responsibilty to form a new government of national salvation with two exclusive aims: For Greece to remain in the euro and to amend the terms of the loan agreements so that there is economic growth and relief for Greek society." 

Before the elections, Samaras had insisted he would not form a coalition with his socialist rivals. 

Syriza head Alexis Tsipras said the drubbing of New Democracy and PASOK, which had signed Greece's loan agreements, meant "their signatures have lost legal legitimacy by the popular vote." 

"The people have rewarded a proposal made by us to form a government of the Left that will cancel the loan agreements and overturn the course of our people toward misery," Tsipras said. 

Both statements are likely to alarm Greece's international creditors, who will be watching the debt-ridden country closely to see if it is meeting the strict fiscal targets of spending cuts and boosting revenue in return for rescue loans that are keeping it from default. The country is expected to take yet more austerity measures in June. 

Partial official results with 48 percent of the vote counted showed New Democracy with 20.05 percent, Syriza with 16.02 percent and PASOK with 13.84 percent. 

Golden Dawn, which rejects the neo-Nazi label and calls itself a nationalist partriotic party, had 6.86 percent — a meteoric rise for a party that won just 0.23 in the previous elections in 2009. 

"Greek citizens should not fear us, the only ones who should fear us are the traitors," Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos told The Associated Press. The outcome is particularly devastating to PASOK, which won a landslide victory in the last parliamentary elections in 2009 with more than 43 percent of the vote. 

"For us at PASOK, the day is particularly painful," Venizelos said. "We new that we would pay the price, having taken a emotionally and politically unbearable position to take the measures that were necessary." 

He ruled out a two-party government with New Democracy and called for a broad coalition of pro-European parties, regardless of their stance on the bailouts. 

"A coalition government of the old two-party system would not have sufficient legitimacy or sufficient domestic and international credibility if it would gather a slim majority," Venizelos said. "A government of national unity with the participation of all the parties that favor a European course, regardless of their positions toward the loan agreements, would have meaning." 

Days of talks are expected as parties attempt to hammer out a governing coalition. 

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
A bartender serves beers
news
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Life and Style
The finale at Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?