Greece's New Democracy conservatives claimed victory Sunday night in the crucial do-over election expected to determine the country's future in the euro zone,
ND leader Antonis Samaras gave a victory speech in Athens' Syntagma Square after an official projection from the Interior Ministry gave his party the lead, albeit narrowly.
He vowed jobs, development, justice and security for Greek citizens, The Guardian reported. We will not have new adventure, we will not doubt the position of Greece in Europe. We won't be cowed by fear.
Samaras called for a grand coalition government, saying: We will invite those parties that take in these objectives to participate in this unity. .. Greece must be governable and we will have a government.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist Syriza bloc, called Samaras to offer his congratulations and is preparing the assume the role of opposition leader.
In his election night speech, he said, I called Samaras and congratulated him. He has the possibility of forming a government on the basis of his mandate and policies. We will be present in developments in position as opposition. In a strong presence of Syriza, we won't sacrifice our position.
Tsipras said that from Monday, the party would continue in our struggle not for those on the side of terrorism but for those on the side of hope, The Guardian reported.
Evangelos Venizelos of the third-place socialist Pasok backed Samaras' call for a grand coalition including Syriza, but Tsipras apparently is having none of it.
There will be seven parties in the next parliament, as was the case after the May 6 election. There will be no change in the order of the parties but there has been a considerable increase in the number of votes for the two leading parties, New Democracy and Syriza.
The projection showed New Democracy taking 29.5 percent of the vote, with the leftist, anti-austerity Syriza in second place with 27.1 percent. The Socialist Pasok followed in third place with 12.3 percent, Reuters reported.
The right-wing Independent Greeks will receive 7.6 percent, the fascist Golden Dawn 7 percent, the Democratic Left 6.2 percent and the Communist KKE party 4.5 percent, according to the ministry. Its projections proved highly accurate in the May election.
The result translates into 128 seats for New Democracy (including 50 extra for coming in first) and 33 seats for Pasok, giving the two pro-bailout parties a slender majority in the 300-seat parliament. The Independent Greeks would have 20 seats, Golden Dawn 18, Democratic Left 17 and KKE 12.
New Democracy and Pasok support an EU/IMF bailout providing Greece with funds to stay afloat, but Syriza has promised to tear up the program and the austerity measures tied to it.
The projection was based on votes counted on the spot at about 12 percent of polling stations and sent to the ministry via text message. There was a margin of error of 0.5 percentage points.
According to The Guardian, maneuvering among the parties is already under way as the votes come in.
Panos Kammenos, leader of the Independent Greeks, a right-wing party that could have been in line to ally with New Democracy, has told the press that the party is keen to support a government that will condemn the bailout agreements - that would in effect rule out a deal with New Democracy and ally its with unlikely partner Syriza.