By Maria Diaz
Date: Monday 18 Jun 2012
With the Eurozone’s future at stake, much of the Greek press has touted this weekend’s presidential elections as the most important since the end of the dictatorship.
Ten million Greeks were called to the polls after the May 6th elections failed to produce a government. This time around, many analysts labelled the election as a de facto referendum on whether the country would stay in the Eurozone.
The official results show that the New Democracy conservative party won the Greek elections with 29.66% of the votes, followed close behind by radical left-wing coalition Syriza, with 26.89% of the votes. In third place was the Socialist Pasok at 12.3%. Pasok will be a key player in the wrangling to form a coalition government because neither the conservatives nor the left-wing have enough votes to govern on their own.
The Greek Independents party was fourth with 7.5% of the votes, followed by the Neo-nazi Golden Dawn party with 6.9% of the votes. The Democratic Left had 6.2% and the Communist party had 4.5% of the votes.
Although the outcome produces a highly fragmented Parliament, it would allow New Democracy and Pasok to unite to form a government with absolute majority, thanks to the Greek electoral system, which grants a 50-seat bonus to the winning party. This would give the pro-bailout parties a victory with 41.9% of the votes and 162 seats (out of a total of 300).
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaris proclaimed victory and has invited pro-Europe parties to form a government of national unity. Samaris declared that Greeks voted for staying in the Eurozone and political forces that will bring development and employment.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras acknowledged defeat and assured that, as the main opposition party, he would continue to reject the austerity pact made with the European Union.
Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos has proposed the formation of a large coalition government that includes his party, New Democracy, Syriza, and the Democratic Left.
The European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are ready to visit Greece once a new government that will stay in the bailout programme is formed.
Meanwhile, the outcome of these elections is a relief for Europe's periphery nations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the rest of the European Union. For now, it means that Greece will stay in the Eurozone under the original bailout package although Antonis Samaras had been indicating that he will renegotiate the bailout conditions.
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