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Greek pro-austerity parties fall short of majority

GREECE: Greece's two pro-austerity parties missed an absolute majority in parliamentary elections, data based on 99 percent of votes showed Monday, throwing the eurozone country into political uncertainty.

The socialist Pasok party and the conservatives of New Democracy (ND) scored just 32.1 percent between them, down from 77.4 percent in the 2009 vote, giving them 149 MPs in the 300-seat parliament, the interior ministry figures showed.

Five other parties opposed to the terms of the country's two international bailouts have won the other seats, including the leftist Syriza with 52 seats, the right-wing Independent Greeks with 33 and the communist KKE with 26.

Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was set to enter parliament for the first time since the end of the military junta in 1974, gaining 21 seats, while the Democratic Left garnered 19.

The outcome throws the eurozone country into political turmoil since poll winner Antonis Samaras of New Democracy, once he is formally tasked with doing so by the president, will find it hard to form a government.

As a repeat of the outgoing coalition between Pasok and New Democracy led by technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will not have a majority in seats, a possibility now will be fresh elections.

Greece has secured two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($312.2 billion) in return for promises of deep austerity cuts that have already seen pensions and salaries slashed by up to 40 percent.

Athens has already committed to finding in June another 11.5 billion euros ($15 billion) in savings in the next two years. The country is in its fifth year of recession and unemployment is at 40 percent.

AFP

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