Pro-bailout Greek vote eases eurozone fears

New Democracy party leader, Antonis SamarasFears of an imminent Greek exit from Europe's joint currency receded after the conservative New Democracy party came first in a critical election and pro-bailout parties won enough seats to form a joint government.

As central banks stood ready to intervene in case of financial turmoil, Greece held its second national election in six weeks after an inconclusive ballot on May 6 and the subsequent collapse of coalition talks.
With one party advocating ripping up Greece's multibillion-euro bailout deal, the election was seen as a vote on whether Greece should stay in the 17-nation group sharing the euro currency.

A Greek exit would have had potentially catastrophic consequences for other ailing European nations, the United States and the entire global economy.

Near complete results showed New Democracy coming first with 29.6% of the vote and 129 of the 300 seats in Parliament. The radical left anti-bailout Syriza party had 26.9% and 71 seats and the pro-bailout Socialist Pasok party came in third with 12.3% of the vote and 33 seats.

The extremist far-right Golden Dawn party had steady support, getting 6.9% of the vote and 18 seats.

The United States welcomed the result. "We hope this election will lead quickly to the formation of a new government that can make timely progress on the economic challenges facing the Greek people," the White House said in a statement.

Greece's parties have starkly different views about what to do about the 240 billion euro in bailout loans that Greece has been given by other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, and the harsh austerity measures that previous Greek governments had to accept in return for the loans.

With none winning an outright majority, the parties will have to seek coalition partners to form a viable government, needing a simple majority of at least 151 seats. New Democracy will get the first stab at brokering a partnership.

Negotiations could be tough. Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos, who spent months negotiating bailouts as Greece's finance minister, has suggested dumping the usual procedure of each party seeking coalition partners.
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