AP – Greeks angered by a vicious and protracted financial crisis punished their two main parties in national elections Sunday, with exit polls projecting no party gaining enough votes to form a government.
The conservative New Democracy party appeared the most likely to win the top spot, while the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn seemed set to gain parliamentary seats for the first time. Days of talks are likely to ensue as parties attempt to hammer out a governing coalition…
According to updated exit poll figures an hour and a half after polls closed, New Democracy was projected to win 19-20.5 percent, followed by the leftist Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, with 15.5-17 percent. The formerly majority socialist PASOK party was projected in third place with 13-14 percent.
“The truth is here — the reality of this result is that at the moment this produces no government,” outgoing deputy prime minister and senior PASOK official Theodoros Pangalos said. “It is not a question at the moment of who gets a little more or a little less.”
If the figures are confirmed by official results expected later Sunday, the result will be a devastating blow to PASOK, which won a landslide victory in the last parliamentary elections in 2009 with more than 43 percent. PASOK, along with New Democracy, have dominated Greek politics since the fall of the seven-year dictatorship in 1974.
Golden Dawn, which has vowed to kick out immigrants and mine Greece’s borders with Turkey, was predicted to win between 6.5-7.5 percent, well above the 3 percent needed to enter parliament. If borne out by official results, it will be a stunning result for a party that won just 0.23 percent in the 2009 elections.
“Greek citizens should not fear us, the only ones who should fear us are the traitors,” Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos told The Associated Press.
Not, perhaps, the most reassuring of reassurances.