Greece: Anti-bailout party demands early election

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — An anti-bailout party in Greece on Monday formally requested an early general election after getting the most votes for European Parliament seats in balloting that also saw the extreme right Golden Dawn party come in third place.

Final results announced late Monday showed the left-wing Syriza party winning with 26.6 percent of the vote. It was followed by the main party in the government coalition, the center-right New Democracy, with 22.71 percent, while Golden Dawn garnered 9.38 percent.

"There is a very large discrepancy between the people's will and the current makeup of parliament," Alexis Tsipras, the 39-year-old Syriza leader, said after visiting Greece's president to make the special election request.

"It is clear that that there is no legitimacy to proceed with critical decisions that will bind the people and the country for years," Tsipras said.

Tsipras has vowed to cancel bailout agreements that rescued Greece from bankruptcy but also imposed harsh austerity measures and spending cuts that produced a huge rise in poverty and unemployment.

Midway through its four-year term, the government ruled out calling an early election shortly after polls closed over the weekend.

Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris late Monday described the election result as a "shock to the corrupt system" as his political group with Neo-Nazi origins overtook established parties, including the Socialists who placed fourth with 8.02 percent.

Sunday's election for Greece's 21 seats in the European Parliament was held together with runoff voting for local government — where Syriza won two races for regional governor. New Democracy won seven and four went to independents.

Although nationally insignificant, the European vote also saw large gains for the Friendship, Equality and Peace Party. It represents a largely Turkish-speaking Muslim minority in Greece's northeast Thrace region, where voters in large numbers abandoned traditionally strong political parties.