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Greek Poll: Anti-Bailout Party Winning 01/25 11:52

   ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- The anti-bailout Syriza party has won a decisive 
victory in Greece's national elections, according to projections by state-run 
TV's exit poll, in a historic first for a radical left-wing party in Greece.

   But it was unclear whether the communist-rooted party had won a decisive 
enough victory over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' incumbent conservatives to 
govern alone. For that, they need a minimum 151 of parliament's 300 seats.

   Syriza's 40-year-old leader, Alexis Tsipras, has promised to renegotiate the 
country's 240 billion-euro ($270 billion) international bailout deal. He has 
pledged to reverse many of the reforms that creditors demanded --- including 
cuts in pensions and the minimum wage, some privatizations and public sector 
firings --- in exchange for keeping Greece financially afloat since 2010.

   The anti-bailout rhetoric has renewed doubts over Greece's ability to emerge 
from its financial crisis that has seen a quarter of its economy wiped out, 
sent unemployment soaring and undermined the euro, the currency shared by 19 
European countries.

   Greece's creditors insist the country must abide by previous commitments to 
continue receiving support, and investors and markets alike have been spooked 
by the anti-bailout rhetoric. Greece could face bankruptcy if a solution is not 
found, although speculation of a "Grexit" --- Greece leaving the euro --- and a 
potential collapse of the currency has been far less fraught than during the 
last general election in 2012.

   "What's clear is we have a historic victory that sends a message that does 
not only concern the Greek people, but all European peoples," Syriza party 
spokesman Panos Skourletis said on Mega television. "There is great relief 
among all Europeans. The only question is how big a victory it is."

   Skourletis said the election results heralded "a return of social dignity 
and social justice. A return to democracy. Because, beyond the wild austerity, 
democracy has suffered."

   Greeks have faced years of austerity measures, including cuts in wages, 
pensions and government spending, and tax increases. Greece's unemployment rate 
is 25.5 percent.

   The exit poll on state-run Nerit TV projected Syriza as having won with 
between 35.5 and 39.5 percent --- or 146-158 seats, compared to Samaras' New 
Democracy with 23-27 percent --- or 65-75 seats.

   If Syriza falls shy of the 151 seats necessary to form a government on its 
own, it will have to seek support from other parties --- either in a minority 
government or as a coalition.

   A Syriza government will see Tsipras becoming Greece's youngest prime 
minister in 150 years.

   The centrist Potami (River) party was battling for third place with the 
Nazi-inspired, extreme right-wing Golden Dawn, whose leadership is in prison 
pending trial for running a criminal organization. Both were projected as being 
between 6.4 and 8 percent.


(KA)


 
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