New Democracy party hails 'victory for Europe'


THE LEADER of Greece’s pro-memorandum conservative party has claimed victory in the country’s second election in as many months, describing it as a “victory for Europe”.

“The people of Greece have shown their will to stay anchored in the euro zone and honour our commitments,” said Antonis Samaras, in a victory speech delivered in Greek and English.

“They have voted for a European course and our stay in the euro. They voted for jobs, justice and safety. No more adventures.”

His comments came after official interior ministry projections gave his New Democracy party 30 per cent of the vote, almost 3.5 points ahead of main contender Syriza, a leftist party calling for the rejection of the country’s memorandum terms.

Conceding defeat, Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras said he was pleased with his party’s performance in light of the “powers that wanted to prevent our struggle”.

“We started an effort to end the memorandum, to open a path for hope, and we are happy that our people have endured and increased our vote share in just a month.” He flatly ruled out his party’s participation in a coalition government, saying his party would assume the role of main opposition and would “continue its struggle”.

The projection confirmed socialist Pasok, which was in government when the country signed its two bailout agreements, in third position, putting it at 12.5 per cent. The figure was based on the results from 18 per cent of polling stations.

New Democracy is almost certain to bag the 50-seat bonus awarded to the first-past-the-post party. According to the ministry’s projections, New Democracy could expect to take 128 seats in such a scenario.

With Pasok likely to take about 33 seats, a coalition between the two parties that have dominated Greek politics since the mid-1970s would have a 10-seat majority.

The tricky business of forming such a coalition will begin this afternoon when the country’s president will award the leader of the largest party with a government-forming mandate. But commentators said it was far from certain a New Democracy-Pasok coalition would emerge, adding that it would face intense political opposition.

Giving his first public reaction to the results, Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos issued an appeal for the formation of a government of “joint responsibility”, consisting of his party, New Democracy, Syriza and the moderate Democratic Left parties.

Earlier, a leading Pasok member, former EU commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, reiterated her party’s position that it could not take part in a coalition that did not have Syriza on board.

However, Syriza announced that its leader, Mr Tsipras, had ruled out his participation in a New Democracy-led government in a telephone call congratulating the conservative leader.

“Mr Tsipras phoned Antonis Samaras and told him to go ahead and form a government without Syriza, and that Syriza is now the main opposition,” Syriza’s Panos Skourletis said.

Seven parties are likely to be returned to parliament, including the anti-memorandum Independent Greeks, a New Democracy splinter (projected to take 7.5 per cent); the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (6.9 per cent); the Democratic Left (6 per cent); and the Communist Party,KKE (4.5 per cent).

For decades the country’s third party, the KKE has now become the seventh and smallest unit, after supporters abandoned its platform of refusing to co-operate with any party. The party came in for intense ridicule on social media f after it requested police assistance in taking down a fake Twitter account in its name that was calling for people to vote for Syriza.