Greeks reject eurozone austerity in 'earthquake' vote

Greek voters dealt a blow to eurozone hopes that Athens will stick to its austerity commitments as parties opposing more cuts, including neo-Nazis, won almost 60-percent support in an election Sunday.

According to updated exit polls, the two main parties suffered heavy losses, with the conservative New Democracy and the left-wing Pasok getting just 32.0 to 34.5 percent between them, down from 77.4 percent at the last polls in 2009.

New Democracy, led by Antonis Samaras, remained the largest party but it fell short of an absolute majority in parliament.

Samaras, as leader of the biggest party, will be tasked with forming a new government by the president, but observers say he will have difficulty forming an administration able to maintain Greece's austerity drive and implement more cuts demanded by the country's creditors.

"We are ready to assume the responsibility of forming a national salvation government with two exclusive goals: to keep the country in the euro and amend the policies of the memorandum," Samaras said late Sunday.

Athens has already committed to finding in June another 11.5 billion euros ($15 billion) in savings in the next two years.

New Democracy obtained about a fifth of support this time, well short of the share needed for an absolute majority in parliament and down from 33.5 percent three years ago.

The other main player Pasok saw its score decimated, polling only 13-14 percent compared to nearly 44 percent in the last elections. The party even looked set to be relegated to third place by the leftist Syriza, which scored 15.5-17.0 percent, more than triple its 4.6 percent of 2009.

"The ruling parties have been struck by an earthquake," shadow foreign minister Panos Panagiotopoulos said on television channel Mega.

Panayotis Petrakis, economics professor at Athens University, expressed hope however that new French president-elect Francois Hollande "would prevent Europe treating us too harshly. There is still a little room for manoeuvre."

Petrakis told AFP that the most likely outcome was another "government of technocrats" headed again by outgoing premier Lucas Papademos, or fresh elections.

Evangelos Venizelos, Pasok leader and the finance minister who negotiated the second bailout, called for a "national unity government" among pro-European parties but admitted this will be "clearly difficult."

Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was also set to enter parliament for the first time since the end of the military junta in 1974, with 6.5-7.5 percent, making it the sixth-biggest party in the 300-seat chamber with some 20 lawmakers.

Leader Nikos Michaloliakos said his party would fight against "world usurers" and the "slavery" of an EU-IMF loan agreement he likened to a "dictatorship".

"The time for fear has come," he said.

Independent Greeks, a new right-wing party set up by New Democracy dissident Panos Kammenos, polled around 11 percent to become the fourth-biggest party, followed by the communist KKE on 8.0-9.5 percent.

The Democratic Left, a Europhile new leftist party, notched up 5.5-6.5 percent. In total seven parties were set to enter parliament compared with just five after the last election.

Both Pasok and ND have said they want the "troika" of the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank to cut Greece more slack in their two bailout deals worth worth 240 billion euros ($314.0 billion).

But with voters angry at the austerity cuts demanded in response, many of the smaller parties, including possible kingmaker Syriza, want to tear up the agreements.

The communist KKE party want to leave the eurozone and the neo-Nazis say they want to stop servicing Greece's debts, an aim shared by Kammenos who wants to turn to Russia to prop up the country.

"The parties that signed the memorandum (with the EU and the IMF) are now a minority. The public verdict has de-legitimised them," Syriza head Alexis Tsipras said, calling the election a "message of overthrow".

Greece's creditors, not least paymaster-in-chief Germany, the main proponent of austerity before growth, have little appetite to loosen the bailout terms, let alone consider a third rescue.

In ominous comments widely quoted by Greek newspapers on Saturday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that if Greece's new government deviated from its commitments, the country would "bear the consequences."

"Membership of the European Union is voluntary," he said in Cologne.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sadness, disappointment in Philippines after Pacquiao defeat
    Sadness, disappointment in Philippines after Pacquiao defeat

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Sadness and disappointment gripped Filipinos after Manny Pacquiao's defeat in his much-anticipated fight against American Floyd Mayweather Jr. but they still considered the boxing icon a national hero. …

  • Philippine rebels kill most wanted Islamist militant in south

    The Philippines' most wanted Islamist militant, who escaped after a raid in January that killed 44 police commandos, was killed on Sunday in firefight with Muslim rebels, officials said. Protracted police operations to arrest three Islamist high-value targets had become the biggest political crisis in five years for President Benigno Aquino and put at risk his government's peace efforts with Moro Islamic Liberation Front. A proposed law creating a new autonomous government for minority …

  • Disappointed Filipinos cry foul as Pacquiao loses
    Disappointed Filipinos cry foul as Pacquiao loses

    Boxing fans in the Philippines cried foul and groaned in bitter disappointment on Sunday as national hero Manny Pacquiao lost to American rival Floyd Mayweather in the "fight of the century". Filipinos filled gymnasiums, cinemas and bars as the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people stopped for Pacquiao's battle with Mayweather in Las Vegas, which he lost in a unanimous points decision. A devastated Pacquiao said immediately afterwards that he thought he had won, and many at home agreed …

  • Steamy fight...and weather as well
    Steamy fight...and weather as well

    Filipinos who will flock to steamy public gymnasiums today to watch free live screenings of Manny Pacquiao’s fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. are advised to drink lots of water as the heat index is expected to reach as high as 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday the forecast for heat index in Metro Manila may reach 39.8 degrees Celsius. It could go as high as 40.3 degrees …

  • POEA asks advertisers to help fight human trafficking
    POEA asks advertisers to help fight human trafficking

    The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has invited advertisers and public relations (PR) agencies to help combat illegal recruitment and human trafficking. POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac conveyed his invitation through his Twitter account @HansLeoCacdac posted last April 29. “Any ad agencies, PR firms or their industry associations interested in joining the campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking?” he said. Cacdac made the invitation to prevent …

  • Even soldiers will take a break today
    Even soldiers will take a break today

    It’s all systems go with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) live stream viewing of today’s fight between Filipino boxing icon Sarrangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao and  Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Soldiers will take a break today,” said Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief, referring to military’s free-viewing event of the most awaited Pacquiao-Mayweather bout. The same preparations have already been done by the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, …

  • ‘No sign of Mount Bulusan’s imminent eruption’
    ‘No sign of Mount Bulusan’s imminent eruption’

    The government is on alert to ensure public safety as Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon province exploded on Friday, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday. Despite the alert, Valte said there is as yet no need to evacuate residents, with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reporting that “there is no threat of imminent eruption” and that the volcano remains at Alert Level 0. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), …

  • Pinoys roar: We’re ready to rumble
    Pinoys roar: We’re ready to rumble

    People’s champion Manny Pacquiao knows that the presence of God and the prayers of an entire nation are with him as he wages the biggest battle of his career against undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. Saturday here (Sunday noon in the Philippines). “I said thank you,” said Pacquiao. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options