An official projection released by the interior ministry showed conservative New Democracy taking 29.5 percent, with the radical leftist SYRIZA bloc just behind on 27.1. The PASOK Socialists were set to take 12.3 percent of the vote.
Because of a 50-seat bonus given to the party which comes first, that result would give New Democracy and PASOK 161 seats in the 300-seat parliament, in an alliance committed to a 130 billion euro (105.05 billion pounds) EU/IMF bailout keeping the country from bankruptcy.
“I am relieved,” smiling New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras told Reuters, leaving his office to joyous chants from supporters. “I am relieved for Greece and Europe. As soon as possible we will form a government.”
Samaras said in a speech that the country would honour its commitments to its euro zone partners.
“The Greek people voted today to stay on the European course and remain in the euro zone… there will be no more adventures, Greece’s place in Europe will not be put in doubt,” he said.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, a 37-year-old former communist who has shot from obscurity to global celebrity in a matter of weeks, called Samaras to concede defeat, a SYRIZA spokesman told Reuters.
The result, however, exposed a deeply divided society, and could leave an emboldened SYRIZA leading new protests against a coalition governing with significantly less than 50 percent of the electorate’s support. Reuters