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Exit Polls: Top Greek Parties Suffer Major Election Losses

VOA News May 06, 2012

Greek voters have punished the two main parties for imposing unpopular economic austerity measures demanded by the European Union.

Government projections from Sunday's parliamentary elections show the conservative New Democracy party winning about 19 percent of the votes -- far short of being able to form a government on its own and sharply down from the 2009 election.

The Socialist PASOK party is projected to win 14 percent, while the leftist Syriza is predicted to win 16 percent.

If the projections hold up, party leaders, those who back the austerity plans and those opposed, would enter into what are likely to be tough talks on forming a new coalition government.

PASOK took power in 2009 and soon discovered the country was deep in debt. It entered into a coalition late last year with the conservatives with the aim of getting parliament to pass the tough economic austerity measures. The EU demanded Greece impose the measures if it wanted crucial bailout money.

The measures include job cuts and tax hikes, infuriating millions of Greeks who say they sacrificed enough.

Both parties, which joined forces in 2009, have said they will press the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank to ease austerity requirements imposed on Athens' debt-ridden government in return for more than $300 billion in two bailouts. But many Greeks accuse the ND-PASOK coalition of fueling the crisis with corrupt practices and widespread mismanagement.

More than 10 smaller parties that opposed the austerity plans are projected to win seats in parliament, running on platforms opposing the austerity measures. They include the communist KKE party that wants to leave the eurozone altogether.

The far-right anti-immigration Golden Dawn party was also poised to enter parliament for the first time in decades.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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