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Too Close to Call: Exit Polls Show No Winner Yet in Greek Elections

ATHENS – After a deadlocked May 6 election that failed to give any party enough votes to form a government in the midst of Greece’s worst economic crisis since World War II, and six anguishing weeks in between with political bickering and warnings the country could be forced out of the Eurozone and into complete collapse, the first exit polls in today’s second round of balloting showed the New Democracy Conservatives and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) in a virtual stalemate to win. New Democracy had between 27,5 to 30,5 of the vote, with SYRIZA showing 27 to 30 percent.
The early results confirmed a number of polls that had shown the pro-austerity Conservatives and anti-austerity Leftists were running neck-and-neck and the first numbers presented a thriller that promised to go long into the night, with the whole world watching, anxious to see if the country’s political instability would continue if there is no clear-cut winner. No matter who wins, neither party would have enough of the vote to have a majority in the 300-seat Parliament, despite a 50-seat bonus given the victor. Both were far ahead of five other parties who had enough support to enter Parliament.
That means that the victor will have to reach out other parties – perhaps including each other – to form a coalition unity government or Greeks would face a third election, a prospect that New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said would be “suicide” for the country which is on economic life support, depending on aid from international lenders, unable to go to the private markets because the government imposed 74 percent losses on investors in a desperate bid to write down the country’s unsustainable debt.
The next parties winning enough votes to enter Parliament were:
PASOK got between 10 to 12 percent
Independent Greeks  got between 6 to 7,5 percent
ΚΚΕ Communists got between 5 to 6 percent
The Democratic Left got between 5,5 to 6,5 percent
Golden Dawn got between 6 to 7,5 percent
The contest was more than an old-fashioned political duel between rival ideologies of the Right and Left, but a referendum as well on whether Greeks, furious over two years of pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions demanded by international lenders, would again repudiate New Democracy and the PASOK Socialists who imposed the measures and if Greece faced expulsion from the Eurozone of the 17 countries using the euro as a currency. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras had vowed to redo or renege on the terms of a second pending bailout of $173 billion that Samaras supported, but also said he wanted to change. Greece is surviving on a first series of $152 billion in rescue loans propping up the country’s essentially dead economy. Greeks faced a dilemma: some 80 percent of them oppose the austerity measures, but also want to stay in the Eurozone, a contradiction in terms.
The austerity measures insisted upon by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in return for the bailouts had deeply divided Greek society with New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras – who initially opposed them – and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos saying they were necessary evils to correct the wrongs both parties had done the previous 38 years in which they alternated governments. The once-ruling parties packed public payrolls with hundreds of thousands of unneeded workers in return for votes, creating a staggering $460 billion debt, but argued they were better suited to get Greece out of the mess they created than was Tsipiras or the other parties opposed to the austerity measures.

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