He promised a government for all Greeks. ND 47.25%, PASOK 40.57%, KKE 5.16%, SYN 2.79%
Greek voters have chosen overwhelmingly New Democracy party and its leader, Costas Karamanlis, to be the next government. Exit polls gave conservative leader Costas Karamanlis’ New Democracy party a lead of about 5% over the socialists led by George Papandreou. The first poll by the private Alter television – released minutes after voting ended, gave the conservatives 44.5%-47% of the vote, against Pasok’s 38.5%-41%.
Another poll – by state NET television – said the conservatives had gained 45.5% of the vote, while Pasok polled 40.2%.
“The picture we have from all exit polls is that we have New Democracy winning the elections by a huge margin,” Alter anchor Nikos Evangelatos was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
Provisional estimates say New Democracy will end up with 165 of parliament’s 300 seats and the socialists will have only 117.
New Democracy supporters have been driving through the streets of Athens with the party flags waving from the windows, the BBC’s Malcolm Brabant reports from the Greek capital. He says crowds also gathered outside the conservatives’ headquarters waiting to anoint Mr Karamanlis as the country’s new prime minister.
According to Reuters, Greece’s conservatives held the edge Sunday in their effort to reclaim power after 10 years and assume the massive responsibility of turning around the troubled preparations for the Olympics, exit polls showed.
THE NEW PRIME MINISTER
A lawyer and international affairs experts, 48-year old Costas Karamanlis has been ND leader for the past seven years, after being elected to the position at the party’s 4th congress.
He came 70,000 votes short of becoming prime minister in the previous April 2000 elections, losing to PASOK rival Costas Simitis. Karamanlis has not held a Cabinet portfolio because PASOK has been in power since 1981, excluding the period of 1990-1993, when a ND government under Constantine Mitsotakis was in power.
In his victory speech, Costas Karamanlis committed him to meet the expectation of the Greek voters. He has promised a new economic policy and transparency, and investment on culture, education and the youth. Karamanlis stated that there are no winners and losers. “The real winner is the Greek people and Democracy”, he said, reveailling that in the conversations he had with the political leaders of the opposition parties he called them to work together.
Costas Karamanlis – who is expected to announce his new government today, or tomorrow – also promised to work for a just solution of the Cyprus problem and for successful Olympic Games.
PASOK President, George Papandreou, gave his concession speech little after 9 p.m. (Greek Time), congratulating Mr Karamanlis for his victory. George Papandreou promised to play a constructive role in the crucial negotiations for a Cyprus settlement and the Olympic preparations and that he will continue the process of change his party’s policies and mechanisms. Papandreou claimed that PASOK’s long tenure in power have caused fatigue to the voters, but he vowed to stay alert and protect the rights of the people, against any punishment by the new ruling party.
HOW THEY VOTED
His optimism that everything will go as planned was expressed by the President of the Republic Costis Stefanopoulos, who voted in Patra.
“Regardless of the result, I am certain that everything will go well”, stated Mr. Stefanopoulos to the press, immediately after casting his vote.
President of New Democracy Costas Karamanlis was the first political leader to vote. Arriving at Thessaloniki’s 410th electoral department in Agios Eleftherios at 08:20, where he was greeted by party supporters.
After voting, Mr. Karamanlis made the following statement to the press: “Today is the celebration for our democracy. Today our citizens decide on the present and the future of our land and we have absolute confidence in their judgment”.
A warm greeting was in store for President of PASOK Giorgos Papandreou upon his arrival in Larissa, where hundreds of members and supporters of the party were waiting for him to arrive in order to vote.
“We are all optimistic with this beautiful and sunny day and with all the enthusiasm around. My forecasts are very optimistic, the messages from all over Greece are very positive, we are moving towards a very optimistic result.”
Prime Minister Costas Simitis voted in Piraeus.