With the polls having closed in Greece, the pro-bailout New Democracy party and the anti-bailout, far-left Syriza are expected to finish in a dead heat – that is, too close to call. However, the old cliché that “every vote counts” has great significance in the Greek election since the party with the highest numbers of votes automatically gets an extra 50 seats in Parliament.
Here are some other developments from the crucial election:
* The BBC reports that if ND comes out on top – even with the extra 50 seats that would entail – leader Antonis Samaras would still lack an outright majority and would have to enter into an uneasy coalition with Socialist Pasok and perhaps the Democratic Left, which lies between Pasok and Syriza on the political spectrum.
* Athens News reported that turnout in this election was surprisingly lower than the prior poll. Turnout is, of course, hurt by the fact that Greek expatriates cannot vote in the election.
* Reuters reported that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is delaying her flight to Mexico for the G20 summit in Mexico by about 12 hours. Merkel has been adamant that Greece must abide by the terms of the EU/IMF bailout.
* Both ND and Syriza have done better than in the prior election, while Pasok and the Communist KKE party have seen their support erode.
* The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which rejects the bailout and also wants to expel illegal immigrants from Greece, has polled 6 percent of the vote, about the same as they did in the prior election. Greek economist Yanis Varufakis told Britain’s Sky News that Golden Dawn winning seats is the serpent's egg hatching again in Europe as the result of a depression,” a reference to the rise of fascism across Europe in the 1930s.
* Andrew Dunn, founder of luxury travel company Scott Dunn, warned that Greece’s exit from the euro would damage its key tourism industry.
“Greece’s exit from the euro would usher in a difficult time for the country’s tourism industry,” he told the Telegraph newspaper of London. “With the return of the drachma would come the likelihood of hyperinflation and loss of guest confidence in the destination. Uncertainty about the Greek economy had already impacted our guests’ bookings for the country, and I fear things would get worse before they improved.”