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greece elections 2015

Greeks return to polls as voting has begun in the country’s snap general election.

Opinion polls indicate a tight race between the left-wing incumbent Syriza party and the conservative New Democracy.

The snap election, Greece’s fifth in six years, was called after Syriza lost its parliamentary majority in August.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras’s popularity plummeted after he agreed a new bailout deal with European leaders.

The bailout involved austerity measures which Syriza had vowed to oppose.

Greece is mired in a deep financial crisis and whoever wins today’s election will have to oversee further tough economic reforms.

According to analysts, whichever party wins is unlikely to get enough seats to form a government alone.

That could mean a period of political instability just as deadlines loom for the implementation of a series of key financial reforms.

Former PM Alexis Tsipras said Greeks would elect “a fighting government” that will “move on with necessary reforms and break with the old regime”, as he cast his ballot on Sunday morning in the Athens district of Kypseli.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Alexis Tsipras signed the bailout deal shortly after a referendum in which more than 60% of voters rejected the austerity measures creditors wanted to impose.

In interviews leading up to the election, Alexis Tsipras Tsipras said he had put his country above his party. He said that had he not agreed to the three-year bailout, Greece would probably have had to leave the eurozone.

He told Antenna TV on September 18 he would “tug the rope” to try to win relief on Greece’s huge national debt from EU creditors.

His main rival, New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis, has dismissed Alexis Tsipras’s term in office as “an experiment that cost [the country] dearly”.

“I fear that if Syriza is elected… the country will soon be led to elections again, and this would be disastrous,” he said.

Commentators say there is also a tight race for third place between the socialist Pasok party and the far-right Golden Dawn.

Analysts have said the migrant crisis on Greece’s doorstep may boost support for Golden Dawn, which is strongly opposed to immigration.

Polls close at 19:00 local time, with the first projected results expected two hours later.

Nearly 10 million Greeks have registered to vote.

Greece’s new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has formed a new cabinet with Yanis Varoufakis as finance minister and right-winger Panos Kammenos as defense minister.

Yanis Varoufakis is an outspoken critic of the conditions imposed on Greece in return for the 2010 bailout.

He will have the tough job of leading talks with the EU over the Syriza party’s pledge to renegotiate Greece’s massive international bailout.

Panos Kammenos is a member of the anti-bailout Independent Greeks party.

It joined a coalition with Syriza, after the left-wing party narrowly failed to secure a majority in parliament in Sunday’s elections.

The EU has meanwhile warned that the new government must stick to its creditor commitments.Alexis Tsipras prime minister

The government’s chief economics spokesman, Euclid Tsakalotos, has argued that it is unrealistic to expect Greece to repay its huge debt in full.

Correspondents say that the appointment of Yanis Varoufakis – who holds dual Greek and Australian nationality – is a signal that the new Syriza-led coalition will take an uncompromising stance when renegotiating Greece’s €240 billion ($270 billion) EU-IMF package.

Yanis Varoufakis insists that Greece cannot restore its finances until its debt is lessened and has described the bailout as “fiscal waterboarding”.

Before the appointment of Yanis Varoufakis, PM Alexis Tsipras said EU leaders needed now to show that they were willing to work with Syriza – and that it would be his “worst nightmare” if the eurozone collapsed because Greece fell.

The appointment of Panos Kammenos into the 11-minister cabinet is also likely to be controversial, correspondents say, because of his claims that Germany is to blame for his country’s economic woes by its insistence on budgetary belt tightening.

Other key appointments made by the prime minister include: Nikos Kotzias as foreign minister, Nikos Pappas as state minister, Nikos Voutsis as interior minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis as production and environment minister, Panos Skourletis as labor and social solidarity minister.

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Greek elections big winner, the far-left Syriza party, has formed an anti-austerity coalition with a right-wing party, the Independent Greeks.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has taken the oath as the new prime minister.

Alexis Tsipras has vowed to renegotiate Greece’s bailouts, worth €240 billion ($268 billion).

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Alexis Tsipras while reminding him of the challenge of “ensuring fiscal responsibility”.

“The European Commission stands ready to continue assisting Greece in achieving these goals,” Jean-Calude Juncker said in a tweet which also referred to “promoting sustainable jobs and growth”.Syriza forms anti-austerity coalition with Independent Greeks

The euro recovered from an 11-year low against the US dollar as investors digested what Syriza’s victory means for the eurozone’s future.

Europe’s main share markets also rose – after initial falls – on hopes that a compromise over Greece’s bailout terms might be found.

With nearly all of the votes counted in Sunday’s poll, Syriza looks set to have 149 seats, just two short of an absolute majority. The Greek Independents are projected to have 13 seats in the 300-seat parliament.

Greece election result is expected to be one of the main issues at Monday’s meeting of 19 eurozone finance ministers.

Sunday’s result means that a majority of voters in Greece have essentially rejected a core policy for dealing with the eurozone crisis as devised by Brussels and Germany.

The troika of lenders that bailed out Greece – the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund – imposed big budgetary cuts and restructuring in return for the bailout money.

The man tipped to become the new Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, said the austerity regime had been “fiscal waterboarding policies that have turned Greece into a debt colony”.

Greece’s economy has shrunk drastically since the 2008 global financial crisis, and increasing unemployment has thrown many Greeks into poverty.

On January 25, Alexis Tsipras told jubilant supporters he wanted to write off half of Greece’s debt, but was ready to negotiate “a viable solution” and wants the country to stay in the eurozone.

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The euro hit an 11-year low against the dollar as investors digest what Syriza’s election victory in Greece means for the eurozone’s future.

The currency fell as low as $1.1088, the lowest level against the dollar in more than 11 years, but in mid-morning trading was 0.4% higher at $1.125.

Europe’s main share markets also rose – after initial falls – on hopes that a compromise over Greece’s bailout terms might be found.

Syriza wants to renegotiate the €240 billion bailout and slow the austerity cuts.

The left-wing party’s leader Alexis Tsipras said he wanted negotiation, not confrontation, with Greece’s international lenders.

“The new Greek government will be ready to co-operate and negotiate for the first time with our peers a just, mutually beneficial and viable solution,” Alexis Tsipras said.Syriza victory hits euro

The troika of lenders that bailed out Greece – the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund – imposed big budgetary cuts and restructuring in return for the money.

Alexis Tsipras said: “The troika for Greece is the thing of the past.”

The euro had already been under pressure following last week’s announcement of a new stimulus program by the European Central Bank.

Greece’s current bailout program ends in February, and economists say a short term deal will be negotiated, but difficult talks lie ahead. Germany has indicated that it is not prepared to renegotiate the bailout terms, raising the prospect that Greece could end up leaving the eurozone.

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Radical-leftist Syriza party has won a clear victory in Greece’s general election.

With nearly 70% of the votes counted, Syriza is projected to win 149 seats, just two short of an absolute majority, though that number could change.

Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras, who has vowed to renegotiate Greece’s debt with international creditors, said “today the Greeks wrote history”.

The ruling New Democracy has come a distant second.

Outgoing PM Antonis Samaras has admitted defeat and called Alexis Tsipras to congratulate him.

Appearing before jubilant crowds in the capital Athens, Alexis Tsipras, 40, said Greek voters gave Syriza “a clear, powerful mandate”.

“You are an example of history which is changing… Your mandate is undoubtedly cancelling the bailouts of austerity and destruction. Alexis Tsipras Syriza wins Greece elections

“The troika for Greece is the thing of the past,” Alexis Tsipras added, referring to Greece’s biggest international lenders – the European Union, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB).

He also promised to negotiate a fair and mutually beneficial financial solution.

Alexis Tsipras earlier vowed to reverse many of the austerity measures adopted by Greece since a series of bailouts began in 2010.

For his part, Antonis Samaras said earlier: “The Greek people have spoken and I respect their decision,” pointing out that he had inherited a “hot potato” on coming into office and that he and his party had done much to restore his country’s finances.

The result is being closely watched outside Greece, where it is believed a Syriza victory could encourage radical leftist parties across Europe.

Either way however, partial results from Greece’s election commission showed a clear Syriza lead.

With 67% of the votes counted, Syriza is polling 36%, while the New Democracy is a distant second with 28%.

An acronym meaning the “Radical Coalition of the Left”, Syriza was formed in 2004 as an umbrella group. It first came to prominence following the 2008 Greek riots.

Another five parties – Far-right Golden Dawn and centrist The River – are expected to be represented in the 300-member parliament, beating the 3% threshold.

The proportion of votes won by smaller parties will have a large impact on whether Syriza can gain the required 151 parliamentary seats to govern with an absolute majority.

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Greece is voting in a general election which could result in the country trying to renegotiate the terms of its bailout with international lenders.

The left-wing Syriza party, which is tipped to win, wants part of Greece’s huge debt written off and austerity measures revoked.

This has spooked money markets and raised fears of a Greek exit from the euro.

The governing New Democracy party says the economy is recovering.

Greece has endured tough budget cuts in return for the bailout negotiated with the so-called troika of lenders – the European Union, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB).

The economy has shrunk drastically since the 2008 global financial crisis, increasing unemployment and throwing many Greeks into poverty.

Polls across Greece opened at 07:00 local time and will close at 19:00.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

There are nearly 10 million eligible voters, who are electing the country’s 300-member parliament.

First exit polls are expected immediately after the voting ends.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras says his party will restore “dignity” to Greece by rolling back on cuts to jobs, pay and pensions which have hurt millions of people across the country.

The possibility of a Syriza victory has sparked fears that Greece could default on its debt and leave the euro – the single currency of 19 EU members.

This is despite the fact that Syriza has moderated its stance since the peak of the eurozone crisis, and says it wants Greece to stay a member of the currency.

Meanwhile, the leader of centre-right New Democracy and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has promised to work “day and night” to keep the country standing.

Syriza, he argues, could force Greece from the euro by its policies, serving what he called the “drachma lobby”, a reference to the former Greek currency.

Antonis Samaras also warns that Greece could miss out on a massive program of quantitative easing unveiled by the ECB last week to help stimulate the eurozone economy.

The centrist To Potami and the right-wing Golden Dawn party are expected to fight for third place in the elections.

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Greece’s left-wing party Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras says an end to “national humiliation” is near, as opinion polls put the party ahead three days before the general election.

Alexis Tsipras asked supporters for a clear mandate to enable him to end Greece’s austerity policies.

He repeated his promise to have half of Greece’s international debt written off when the current bailout deal ends.

Greece has endured deep budget cuts tied to the massive bailout.

The country’s election on January 25 is being closely watched by financial markets which fear that a Syriza victory could lead Greece to default on its debt and exit from the euro.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“On Monday, national humiliation will be over. We will finish with orders from abroad,” Alexis Tsipras told thousands of cheering supporters at the party’s final election rally in Athens.

“We are asking for a first chance for Syriza. It might be the last chance for Greece.”

Greece has gone through a deep recession and still has a quarter of its workforce unemployed.

However, there have been warnings that a Syriza victory could lead to a dangerous confrontation with other eurozone countries.

Syriza is tipped to win but without an outright majority, and analysts say the party may struggle to find a coalition partner.

Alexis Tsipras has said he will not govern with those who support what he has called the policies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany is seen in Greece as taking the hardest line on its debt.

Earlier this month, a spokesman for Angela Merkel said Germany expected Greece to uphold the terms of its international bailout agreement.

Under those terms, the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank – the so-called troika – supported Greece with the promise of €240 billion in return for budget cuts and economic reforms.

Latest polls show Syriza widening its lead over PM Antonis Samaras’s centre-right New Democracy party.

A poll to be published on January 23 by Metron Analysis put Syriza’s lead over New Democracy up to 5.3 percentage points from 4.6 points.

Another poll, by Rass, had Syriza 4.8 points in the lead.

Antonis Samaras will hold his final election rally on January 23 as both sides make a final push to win over undecided voters.

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