Angry Greeks reject bailout, risk euro exit
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek voters enraged by economic hardship caused by the terms of an international bailout turned on ruling parties in an election on Sunday, putting the country's future in the euro zone at risk and threatening to revive Europe's debt crisis.
The latest official results, with over 61 percent of the vote counted, showed the only two major parties supporting an EU/IMF program that keeps Greece from bankruptcy would be hard pressed to form a lasting coalition.
Conservative New Democracy and Socialist PASOK, who have dominated Greece for decades, were holding less than 35 percent of the vote. That would mean they might only scrape the 151-seat threshold needed for even the most fragile majority in parliament.
Once mighty PASOK looked set to be pushed into third place by the anti-bailout Left Coalition party, in a stunning vote against austerity policies that have caused deep hardship in one of Europe's worst postwar recessions.
New Democracy was polling just under 20 percent and PASOK a humiliating 13.6 percent with the Left Coalition on 16.2.
In the last election in 2009, PASOK won a landslide victory with 44 percent and the Left Coalition had just 5 percent.
"I cannot take it anymore, living as beggars in our own country. The Left Coalition can shake them up, and wake them up," said Kate Savvidou, 65, a pensioner who deserted PASOK.
Left Coalition leader Alexis Tsipras, at 37 Greece's youngest political leader, hailed a peaceful revolution and said German Chancellor Angela Merkel should understand that austerity policies had been defeated.
"Greek people gave a mandate for a new dawn with solidarity and justice instead of barbaric bailout measures," he said.
In another indication of the extent of public anger, the extreme right Golden Dawn party was poised to take nearly 7 percent of the vote. This would allow such a party to enter parliament for the first time since the fall of a military dictatorship in 1974.