Angry Greeks Vote in Cliffhanger Election

06 May 2012

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A Greek protester 


Angry Greek voters headed to the polls on Sunday for an election shrouded in uncertainty that could reignite Europe's debt crisis and renew doubts about the country's future in the euro zone.

The first general election since Greece's debt crisis exploded at the end of 2009 will go a long way to dictating whether the country will stick to the terms of EU/IMF bailouts which saved it from bankruptcy but propelled it into a deep recession.

At stake is whether the country that drew the decade-old euro zone into the worst crisis since its creation could push it back into turmoil.

Voters hit by record unemployment and steep wage cuts will send to parliament an unprecedented number of small parties opposed to the austerity and punish New Democracy and Socialist PASOK - the two parties who have ruled Greece for decades and the only major ones backing the bailouts.

Many feel that threats about Greece's future in Europe if they do not stay the debt-cutting course are not credible despite a warning from euro zone paymaster Germany that there would be "consequences" to an anti-bailout vote.

"The big parties are saying that if we don't vote for them we may be forced out of the euro. I am not sure that's the case. The two big parties have been in power too long, it's time for change, there has been too much austerity and scandals," said Helen Theohari, 37, who is unemployed.

The election is too close to call.

The anti-bailout parties are too divided to rule and it is not clear whether New Democracy and PASOK will scrape just enough votes together to renew a fractious coalition they set up in November to clinch a second bailout worth 130 billion euros.

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