Greek elections: Voters punish major parties


Members of the Greek extreme right-wing Golden Dawn Party celebrate outside their office in Thessaloniki on May 6, 2012. Greece's two main parties suffered big losses in elections Sunday, exit polls showed, rocking the eurozone state's austerity plans after a strong showing by protest groups including the neo-Nazis.



Early results from Greece's parliamentary election on Sunday showed that Greek voters had punished the two major parties which supported tough austerity measures, according to Reuters.

Based on an early projection by the Interior Ministry, the conservative New Democracy party and the Socialist PASOK, which have dominated Greek politics for decades, reached a maximum of less than 33 percent of the vote.

According to Reuters, that would give them at most one seat above parliamentary majority, a precarious position to maintain.

The BBC reported that with 35 percent of the vote counted, New Democracy had 20.35 percent of the vote, down from 33.5 percent in 2009. PASOK trailed in third with 14.1 percent, down from 43.9 percent in the last elections. The left-wing coalition Syriza gained second place with 15.79 percent of the vote, according to BBC.

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The neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn could also enter parliament for the first time if exit polling data of 6.5 to 7.5 percent turns out to be accurate, said the BBC.

PASOK leader and former finance minister Evangelos 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," according to the BBC.

The New York Times noted that the early results also signaled a rebuke of European leaders and their strategies for handling the Greek economy. The elections are seen as pivotal for the country's economic recovery as well as its future in the eurozone.

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If the final results are along the lines of the exit polling data, the two main parties can still form a coalition, said The Times.

Whichever government takes power will have to handle enforcing the loan agreement backed by the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund while trying to lead the country out of a crippling recession.

According to NPR, unemployment in Greece has hit 21 percent and the GDP has been slashed by 20 percent in the past two years.

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