Thursday 18 July 2019

Greek conservatives take strong lead in exit poll

  • Conservatives in lead in Greek election poll
  • Tsipras calls election 'critical battle'
Supporters of New Democracy conservative party are seen at the party's main election kiosk after the announcement of the first exit polls in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Supporters of New Democracy conservative party are seen at the party's main election kiosk after the announcement of the first exit polls in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
A supporters of New Democracy conservative party reacts at the party's main election kiosk after the announcement of the first exit polls in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
A supporters of New Democracy conservative party reacts at the party's main election kiosk after the announcement of the first exit polls in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Supporters of New Democracy conservative party are seen at the party's main election kiosk after the announcement of the first exit polls in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis accompanied by his daughter Dafni arrives at the party's headquarters in Athens, Greece July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is greeted by supporters as he arrives at the party's headquarters in Athens, Greece July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives at the party's headquarters in Athens, Greece July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is greeted by supporters as he arrives at the party's headquarters in Athens, Greece July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
A woman leaves a voting booth during the general election in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Elpida Kafantari
A woman leaves a voting booth during the general election in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Elpida Kafantari
Greek Prime Minister and Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras greets supporters at a polling station in Athens, on Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Greek opposition New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis casts his ballot at a polling station in Athens, on Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Greek opposition New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis waves to his supporters outside of a polling station in Athens, on Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Greek opposition New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis waves to his supporters outside of a polling station in Athens, on Sunday, July 7, 2019.
Greek Prime Minister and Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras enters in a car after casts his ballot at a polling station in Athens, on Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis waves at supporters after voting at a polling station, during the general election in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. Yiorgos Kontarinis/Eurokinissi via REUTERS
A woman holds her child as she casts her ballot at a polling station, during the general election in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras greets a supporter outside a polling station, during the general election in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
People are inside a voting booth at a polling station for the general election in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos

Greece's opposition conservatives were on track to return to power by a landslide on Sunday, exit polls suggested, unseating incumbent leftists blamed for pushing the crisis-hit country further into debt.

Two exit polls gave conservative New Democracy a commanding lead of between 38 and 42 percent of the vote, suggesting an outright majority in Greece's parliament.

New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is greeted by supporters as he arrives at the party's headquarters in Athens, Greece July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is greeted by supporters as he arrives at the party's headquarters in Athens, Greece July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

One of the exit polls showed New Democracy, lead by opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, winning between 155 and 167 seats in the 300 member parliament.

It showed ruling Syriza coming second with between 26.5 and 30.5 percent of the vote.

Sunday's poll was the first national election since the country shook off close scrutiny by its European partners who loaned Greece billions in three bailouts. Incumbent Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras signed up to the latest, in 2015, in return for potential debt relief.

"The basic reason (for the result) is the economy," said analyst Theodore Couloumbis. "In the past 4.5 years people saw no improvement, on the contrary there were cutbacks in salaries and pensions," he said.

Supporters of New Democracy conservative party are seen at the party's main election kiosk after the announcement of the first exit polls in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Supporters of New Democracy conservative party are seen at the party's main election kiosk after the announcement of the first exit polls in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

The snap election was called after Syriza suffered a defeat in European elections in May.

Greece endured a debilitating financial crisis from 2010 that required three cash lifelines from its euro zone partners.

A woman leaves a voting booth during the general election in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Elpida Kafantari
A woman leaves a voting booth during the general election in Athens, Greece, July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Elpida Kafantari

"I want the government that will be elected to do its best for the people, who are hungry," said pensioner Christos Mpekos, 69. "To give jobs to the young so they don't leave."

Others said they forgave Tsipras for any errors.

"I am completely satisfied, whatever the mistakes, whatever the omissions. He got us out of the bailouts," said Niki Loufa, 61, a retired bank worker.

Tsipras says that a vote cast for Mitsotakis would go to the political establishment, which forced Greece to the edge of the precipice in the first place.

Greek Prime Minister and Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras greets supporters at a polling station in Athens, on Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Greek Prime Minister and Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras greets supporters at a polling station in Athens, on Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

But he has also been roundly criticised for mismanagement of crises and for brokering a deeply unpopular deal to end a dispute over the name of neighouring North Macedonia.

Greece wrapped up its last economic adjustment programme in 2018 but remains under surveillance from lenders to ensure no future fiscal slippage. While economic growth has returned, Greek unemployment of 18 percent is the euro zone's highest.

New Democracy has promised to invest in creating well-paid jobs with decent benefits.

Reuters

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