ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The heads of the two parties projected to earn the most votes in Greece's election have called for changes in the country's international bailout terms, with one seeking to re-negotiate the deal and the other to overturn it.
Updated official projections Sunday show conservative New Democracy head Antonis Samaras leading with 18.9 percent and 108 seats in the 300-member parliament, far less than the 151 needed to form a government. Leftist Syriza head Alexis Tsipras was second with 16.8 percent and 51 seats, while the former majority PASOK was projected third with 13.4 percent and 41 seats.
Samaras called for a coalition government with two aims: for Greece to remain in the euro and to amend the terms of its international bailout. Tsipras called for the overturning of the bailout.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's former finance minister and Socialist party leader called for a broad coalition government of pro-European parties, ruling out a two-party government with his conservative rivals after his party received a drubbing in Sunday's parliamentary elections.
Official projected results showed Evangelos Venizelos' PASOK party plunging to third place with 13.6 percent and 42 seats in the 300-member parliament. The conservative New Democracy was projected in the lead with 19.18 percent and 109 seats, far below the 151 needed to form a government. The margin of error was 0.5 percentage point.
"A coalition government of the old two-party system would not have sufficient legitimacy or sufficient domestic and international credibility if it would gather a slim majority," Venizelos said. "A government of national unity with the participation by all the parties that favor a European course, regardless of their positions toward the loan agreements, would have meaning."
If borne out by final results, the outcome is devastating for PASOK, which won a landslide victory in 2009 with more than 43 percent of the vote.
Voters outraged by Greece's protracted financial crisis and the austerity measures imposed in return for international bailouts punished both main parties, turning to smaller anti-bailout groups instead. The leftist Syriza, which was projected in second place with 16.3 percent and 50 seats, has been strongly opposed to Greece's bailout agreements.
"For us in PASOK, today is particularly painful," Venizelos said. "We knew the price would be heavy and we had undertaken for a long time to bear it."