Greece Elections: Pro-Bailout New Democracy Wins

Fears of an inescapable Greek exit from Europe’s joint currency receded today after the conservative New Democracy came first in critical elections.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras cast Sunday's choice as one between keeping the euro and returning to Greece's old currency, the drachma. He has vowed to renegotiate some of the bailout's harsher terms but insists the top priority is for the country to remain in Europe's joint currency. Photo: European People's Party/Flickr

Greece’s conservative New Democracy party will try to form a coalition on Monday with other parties backing the international bailout after a narrow election victory over the left that eased fears of a sudden exit from the euro.

According to The Huff Post, results showed New Democracy coming first with 29.6 percent of the vote and 129 of the 300 seats in Parliament.

Syriza, the radical left anti-bailout party, had 26.9 percent and 71 seats while the pro-bailout Socialist PASOK party came in third with 12.3 percent of the vote and 33 seats. ‘

“The people spoke yesterday and gave a clear mandate to pro-European parties to cooperate and fight the battle to keep the country in the euro,” the daily Kathimerini, Greece’s biggest daily newspaper, wrote on Monday.

“By tomorrow, the country needs to have a government of the widest possible acceptance with politicians and technocrats. PASOK must support such a government.”

Meanwhile, U.S. stock index futures and riskier commodities such as crude oil and copper rose, while safe-haven assets like German bonds and gold fell after rallying last week on fears that the Greek vote could have unleashed financial turmoil, reports Reuters.

With no party winning an outright majority, the parties will have to seek coalition partners to form a viable government, needing a simple majority of at least 151 seats.

New Democracy is supposed to get the first stab at brokering a partnership on Monday.

PASOK officials said that a meeting on Monday would decide how they would support Samaras – by participating fully in government, or by voting with the coalition in parliament.

“There is not one day to lose. There is no room for party games. If we want Greece to really remain in the euro and get out of the crisis to the benefit of every Greek family, it must have a government tomorrow,” Venizelos said.

Venizelos proposed a broad four-party coalition consisting of New Democracy, Syriza, and his own organization, as well as the Democratic Left party, which appears to have won 6.3 percent of the vote and 17 seats.

“No decision can be taken without this national unity,” Venizelos said, according to IBT.

However, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, made clear his was now the main opposition party, saying it would fight on against the bailout and take power sooner or later.

Tsipras congratulated New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras Sunday night on his victory and vowed that his party would remain outside the government.

“We will be present in these developments from the position of the main opposition,” Tsipras said in a speech to cheering party supporters in Athens.

Representatives of the euro zone’s paymaster, Germany, appeared to be happy with the Greek election results.

“The German federal government would consider such a result a decision by Greek voters to forge ahead with the implementation of far-reaching economic and fiscal reforms,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a statement.

Greek EU partners and the IMF welcomed the pro-bailout parties’ victory, noting they were ready to work with the government that emerges.

However, EU officials have made clear Greece must stick to its pledges to receive more funding while hinting there may be some leeway at the margins.

“There can’t be substantial changes to the agreements but I can imagine that we would talk about the time axes once again, given that in reality there was political standstill in Greece because of the elections, which the normal citizens shouldn’t have to suffer from,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

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