Greek pro-bailout parties secure ruling majority
By Renee Maltezou and Harry Papachristou
ATHENS (Reuters) - Parties supporting a bailout saving Greece from bankruptcy won a slim parliamentary majority on Sunday, beating radical leftists who rejected austerity and bringing relief to the euro zone which was braced for fresh financial turmoil.
The election result looked likely to yield a coalition government led by conservative New Democracy but leaves an emboldened SYRIZA bloc to rally angry opposition in the streets to the punishing terms of the bailout.
Official results released by the interior ministry, with 97 percent of ballots counted, showed New Democracy taking 29.7 percent of the vote, with SYRIZA on 26.9. 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 would give New Democracy and PASOK 162 seats in the 300-seat parliament, in an alliance broadly committed to the 130 billion euros ($164 billion) bailout.
Germany signaled there may be some leeway on the timeframe for cuts demanded in return for the aid.
The result buys time for the euro zone, which was braced for a SYRIZA victory and the prospect of having to cut debt-ridden Greece loose, potentially unleashing shocks that could break up the single currency.
But it exposed a deeply divided society, seething over the wage, job and pension cuts imposed as the price of two EU/IMF bailouts since 2010 totaling 240 billion euros.
The savage austerity has helped condemn Greece to five years of record recession and plummeting living standards. Continued...