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Voting underway in Greek parliamentary elections

05-06-2012 16:52 BJT

ATHENS, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Voting began Sunday in Greece's first parliamentary election since the start of the country's deep debt crisis two years ago.

A total of 9.8 million Greeks - 4.7 million men and 5 million women - are registered to vote in some 20,560 polling stations across the country until 19:00 local time.

The election in the debt-ridden country has turned into a kind of austerity and reform referendum, local analysts have noted.

The Interior Ministry said the first official results and estimations were expected after 21:00 local time and the final results would be announced Monday.

Angered at salary and pension cuts and tax increases introduced to avoid a disorderly default, voters seem to be divided over economic policy, leaning pro and against harsh bailout agreements reached with international lenders since May 2010.

The outcome of Sunday's election will seal the country's economic future, anyalysts said. They said the vote would determine whether Greece's stability program will continue or whether the country will eventually collapse financially and lose its euro zone membership while sending shockwaves across the international financial system.

Opinion polls have suggested that the two main parties that have been alternating in power for almost four decades, the socialist PASOK party and the conservative New Democracy (ND) party will be "punished" for their pro-bailout stance.

Anti-austerity parties from the far-right to the left of the political spectrum, meanwhile, will benefit from people's frustrations.

According to pollsters, the ND party led by Antonis Samaras will secure some 27 percent of votes and the 50-seat bonus under electoral law.

The PASOK party of former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos was expected to win about 20 percent of the vote. In the October 2009 national poll, PASOK won 44 percent of the vote and a 160-seat parliamentary majority.

A total of 10 parties were expected to surpass the three percent threshold needed to enter parliament, including for the first time, the neo-fascist Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn).


Editor:Bai Yang |Source: Xinhua

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