Greeks punish pro-bailout parties: Exit polls

Greece is holding the first general election since the debt crisis hit the country in late 2009.

Zeenews Bureau

Athens: Frustrated and angered by the severe austerity measures, Greeks on Sunday translated their votes into what can be termed as punishment for the two major parties supporting bailout.

Exit polls are hinting clearly that the two main parties, Centre-right New Democracy and Centre-Left PASOK will fail to garner governmemt forming numbers.

According to exit pols televised throughout Greece, New Democracy is leading with 17-20% votes. On second place is the anti-austerity Left coalition party with 15-18% votes. PASOK keeps languishing at number three with least vote percentage.

Entirely dependent on billions of euros worth of international rescue loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, Greece must impose yet more austerity measures next month, if it is to keep the money flowing and prevent a default and a potentially disastrous exit from the euro.

If exit pols are to be believed, the results could throw Greece into a political tizzy with its future in eurozone in danger.

The exit polls showed Greeks fuming at record unemployment, collapsing businesses and steep wage cuts had ignored warnings that a vote against the harsh terms of the bailout would push Greece towards bankruptcy.

Earlier during voting leaders from all sides emphasised the importance of the vote for the future of Greece, which is suffering one of Europe`s worst postwar recessions.

Public anger has been so high that politicians have been forced to maintain low-profile campaigns for fear of physical attacks on the streets in a country battered by business closures and hundreds of thousands of job losses.

The last opinion polls published before a two-week blackout ahead of the election showed PASOK and New Democracy hemorrhaging support since the last election in 2009. Their support has reached historic lows, plunging to percentages last seen in the mid-1970s for the socialists and to historic lows for New Democracy, whose previous low of 33.47 per cent was reached in the crushing defeat of 2009.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is expected to come in first, benefiting from a bonus 50 seats in the 300-member parliament. But even with that he would fall far short of the 151 seats needed to form a government. Opinion polls projected him winning not more than 25.5 per cent.

With agencies` inputs