Athens. Greek media breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after parties favoring an EU-IMF bailout deal won a knife-edge election, raising hopes of an end to a political deadlock that has stalled vital reforms.
“A breather of a verdict for Greece,” liberal Kathimerini daily said of the second general election in two months that handed victory to the conservative New Democracy party, which has pledged to keep Greece in the euro.
With almost all votes counted, New Democracy controlled 129 seats in the 300-seat parliament and the socialist Pasok party — a likely coalition candidate — secured 33 seats, enough for a workable majority.
“There is stable ground for a coalition government,” Kathimerini said.
“A vote of hope,” opined Eleftheros Typos daily which supports the new ruling party.
Centrist daily Ethnos said that a “clear mandate” had been given for a government to keep Greece in the euro and renegotiate the terms of the bailout.
While delivering a mandate to keep crisis-hit Greece in the euro, the election also constituted a clear demand for changes in the austerity blueprint which is deemed to have plunged the country in a recession spiral.
The anti-austerity leftist Syriza party and its firebrand leader Alexis Tsipras came second, electing 71 deputies.
Overall, parties opposing the EU-IMF bailout will have 121 lawmakers in the new parliament.
Tsipras has ruled out joining a coalition, arguing that the harsh conditions for the bailout deal should be scrapped altogether.
Talks on forming a government are expected to start on Monday, with head of state Carolos Papoulias set to task New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras with piecing together a coalition.
“The country does not have a minute to lose,” Samaras said late on Sunday.
“We ask all political forces which share the aim of keeping the country in the euro… to join a government of national unity,” he said.