The conservative pro-bail out New Democracy party is on course for a narrow victory over left-wing rivals in Greek parliamentary polls, reports based on preliminary results say.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras declared victory in the election with the final official results awaited, and called parties to join a national salvation government, "as soon as possible."
Delivering a victory speech on Sunday night, he said Greeks had voted to stay in the euro, and termed it a victory for "all Europe."
He promised that "The sacrifices of the Greek people will bring the country back to prosperity."
He said Greece would honor its obligations to its lenders.
With 60% of votes counted, New Democracy leads with 30.1% of the vote (130 seats), followed by the leftist Syriza, which opposes the government's austerity measures for securing a bailout, with 26.5% (70 seats).
The socialist PASOK party, which had partnered New Democracy in the coalition government since last November, won 12.6% votes, enough to secure 33 seats in the 300-member parliament.
With no single party able to win clear majority in Greek parliamentary elections, the country looks forward to political talks on the prospect of forming a coalition government that is crucial to keep Greece in the euro.
The leading party gets 50 extra seats in the parliament, which boosts the prospect of a government led by the New Democracy party.
Official projections show New Democracy and Pasok together winning 161 seats, enough for majority.
Syriza party's leader Alexis Tsipras congratulated New Democracy party and agreed Samaras should be first to try to to form a coalition.
The world, especially Europe, has been closely watching the outcome of the Greek election amid fears a failure for the pro-bail out parties could lead to a severe deepening of the eurozone crisis, and a break-up of the euro.
The leftist Syriza party had vowed that if it comes to power in Greece, the austerity measures that were tied to the bailout package for the debt-ridden nation will be scrapped.
Now the focus turns to talks on forming a coalition government that could determine the debt-stricken country's future in the eurozone, which significantly impacts the global economy.
Greece was forced into a second general election in six weeks as no parties were able to win clear majority in the May 6 parliamentary elections.
Greece was left with no option other than calling fresh elections as political parties failed to reach agreement to form a coalition government after two rounds of talks.
Since then, Greece has been under a caretaker government headed by the chief judge of the country's top administrative court Panagiotis Pikrammenos.
In the run-up to the election, New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras had made it clear that his party wants to remain in the eurozone and alter existing policies, including stringent austerity measures.
A new government must come to power in Greece if the debt-ridden country is to get the next installment of bailout fund from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Failure to form a government for the second time in as many months poses the risk that Greece will fail to receive the loan amount, as the international lenders have warned that they will not discuss further aid disbursements until a new government is formed.
The financial crisis in Greece and its shaky position in the Eurozone is threatening the stability of the single currency.
Both France and Germany, the Eurozone's two biggest economies as well as the biggest contributors to its bailout funds, want Greece to remain in the 17-member bloc that uses euro as its common currency and has promised to help promote economic growth in the debt-stricken EU member-nation as long as Athens honors previous agreements that require implementation of painful austerity measures in exchange for bailout loans.
European central banks had indicated they are prepared to inject cash in the event of an escalation in turmoil in the region after the Greek elections.
by RTT Staff Writer
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