Greece's direction murky after elections

May 6, 2012 at 10:09 PM
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ATHENS, Greece, May 6 (UPI) -- Greeks split their votes among several parties in Sunday's parliamentary elections, leaving it uncertain who will guide the country to financial recovery.

The Athens newspaper Ekatherimerini reported that with seven parties winning seats in Parliament, the center-right New Democracy and center-left PASOK parties, which had supported the country's latest international bailout, could be blocked from quickly forming a coalition government

With about 93 percent of the votes counted, the New Democracy Party had about 19.2 percent for 59 seats, followed by the left-leaning SYRIZA, at 16.6 percent and 51 seats and PASOK at 13.4 percent and 41 seats.

The right-wing anti-bailout Independent Greeks party was fourth with 10.6 percent and 33 seats, followed by the Communist Party garnered 8.4 percent and 26 seats.

The neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party was polling close to 7 percent and 21 seats. The Democratic Left was seventh at 6.1 percent at 19 seats.

There were 32 parties running for the 300 seats parliamentary seats.

Ekathimerini said it was possible New Democracy, which gets 50 extra seats, could form a coalition with PASOK, but the slim majority would leave the parties in a weak position since Greek voters moved toward parties that opposed the bailout agreed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras said they are open to the idea of including other parties in a pro-European national unity administration that would try to renegotiate the terms of the EU-IMF loan agreement.

"All Greeks have to get to know each other again," Venizelos said. "We embittered the people so we could protect the future of the nation."

Samaras said he would try to form a "national salvation government" that would keep Greece in the eurozone. He also said he would seek to "amend" Greece's debt deal with foreign creditors.

In five years of national recession, the eurozone country has received two bailouts worth more than $300 billion from the European Union and International Monetary Fund and has an unemployment rate of almost 20 percent.

In exchange for the international aid, Greece has had to slash government salaries and pensions by 40 percent, leading to frequent demonstrations and anti-government rallies.

Greece has also written off 30 percent of its international debt.

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