Pro-bailout party gets edge over Syriza in Greek polls
DPA & AFP
ATHENS GREECE’S pro-bailout conservative New Democracy party was slightly leading in elections on Sunday, according to exit polls.
Private television broadcaster Mega said New Democracy had a slight lead, with 27.5 to 30.5 per cent of the vote, while the radical leftist Syriza party was at between 27 and 30 per cent.
Meanwhile, Greeks fed up with austerity voted on Sunday in elections that could decide their future in the eurozone amid unprecedented external pressure not to vote for a radical leftist party.
Some 9.8 million Greeks began voting at 0400 GMT in a showdown between the conservative New Democracy party and the anti-austerity Syriza party that has spooked European leaders and the markets.
“I hope that the vote will lead us to the formation of a stable government that will immediately address the problems troubling the Greek people,” President Carolos Papoulias said after casting his vote.
The ballot opened smoothly but around 1000 GMT prominent private media group Skai TV, which supports the unpopular austerity drive, was evacuated after two grenades were found outside its offices.
Police said the grenades, which were operational, were found after an anonymous telephone warning in the early morning. There was no explosion.
“Somebody is trying to disturb the holding of the election but this effort will fail,” said government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras.
“Democracy cannot be terrorised,” he added.
A police statement said the two grenades would be examined by bomb experts, and that the investigation would be conducted by the Greek anti-terrorism squad.
The man at the centre of international concern, radical leftist Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, said his side would win and Greece would keep its place as an equal member in a changing Europe.
“We have conquered fear,” Tsipras said after casting his vote in the working class Athens district of Kypseli, an apparent reference to criticism that his threat to scrap a multi-billion EU-IMF loan agreement endangers Greece’s eurozone membership.
Greek newspapers said the vote was the most critical since the end of military rule in 1974, as conservative chief Antonis Samaras argued that a “new era” would begin for the recession-hit eurozone state on Monday.
“Today the Greek people speak. Tomorrow a new era starts for Greece,” Samaras said in his hometown of Pylos in the southern Peloponnese peninsula.
“We must have a strong united front and international credibility to achieve the best for Greeks, inside the eurozone, whilst keeping all that is positive in the loan agreement, all that is positive about the country’s European character,” said Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos.
Venizelos is seen as the most likely partner for the Conservatives.