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UPDATE 4:30 PM ET/11:30 ATHENS
If you thought for a moment that the Greek election would end in a clean outcome tonight, the joke was on you.
In the first wave of exit polls that came out at 12:00 PM ET, the pro-bailout, conservative New Democracy party held a razor thin 0.5% lead over the leftist SYRIZA party.
Then an hour and a half later, it became clear that New Democracy would come in first, and that it (along with PASOK) would have enough seats to garner a majority in the Hellenic Parliament.
This is the outcome that markets have most wanted to see, as New Democracy and PASOK have generally signalled a willingness to go along with the current bailout path, and not buck the rest of Europe. The leftist leader Alex Tsipras, on the other hand, had threatened to tear up the bailout agreement (though he had always promised not to leave the Eurozone).
So at first it all seemed good… but then around 9:00 PM in Athens, word came that the leader of PASOK, Venizelos, was threatening to withhold support for a new government unless SYRIZA also joined as part of a broad coalition.
The politics are understandable. It’s very easy for SYRIZA to gain popularity will staying in the opposition, railing against the establishment parties and the bailout without having to take any responsibility for what happens. The meme in Athens is that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras didn’t even want to win, and always wanted to come back and run again in 4 to 8 months after the establishment parties lost standing.
So suddenly what looked like a solid result had gone sour.
But Athens insiders figured right away that Venizelos HAD to be bluffing, and that ultimately he would join the coalition.
And that now seems to be the case. According to reports, Venizelos is signaling an agreement to join the government, but it’s not clear how he will. Most likely, it seems, he will join the government, but only by providing votes… not actually having any PASOK leaders take on ministerial positions.
The mood here now is fatigue. Everyone expects elections soon, and nothing at all has relaly changed.
Markets may be temporarily relieved that SYRIZA did not win, but this is far from a powerful market positive. It just averts what might have been a disaster.
In his victory speech, New Democracy ldear Antonis Samaras (pictured above) said Greeks have voted for growth and the euro. How that can be delivered on (especially the growth part) is a huge challenge.
Earlier updates below…
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There’s still counting to do, but it definitely appears that the conservative New Democracy party has won the Greek election.The second wave of exit polls, which came out at 8:30 PM Athens time shows the New Democracy party — lead by Antonis Samaras — clinging to a 1%~ lead over the left-wing SYRIZA coalition.
That lead is an expansion of the mere 0.5% lead shown in the first round of exit polls.
Greek TV networks predict that New Democracy will take about 127 seats in the parliament, which when combined with the 32 seats for PASOK, give the coalition more than the 151 seats needed to form a government.
For now, this is a big sigh of relief for Europe and world markets.Tsipras had promised to totally tear up the Greek bailout agreement
Samaras has said he will renegotiate the current bailout, but mostly he’s the status quo candidate. Tsipras would drastically tear up the agreement and pursue a new scheme.
But it’s not clear how much leeway Europe will give Greece, and with such a tiny majority it’s seen as very likely that another election will be coming. In fact, a major meme going around Greece is that Tsipras wanted to lose so that he could watch the current establishment flail some more, so that he might come back and win convincingly in 4-8 months time.
See earlier updates below…
It’s starting to look like the conservatives are going to pull out the victory.
The latest wave of exit polls show New Democracy expanding its tiny lead of the left-wing SYRIZA coalition.
Whereas in the first exit poll that came out at 12:00 ET (7:00 PM Athens time) showed a 0.5% lead for New Democracy, this second poll shows a lead of about 1%… a very good sign that they’re expanding.
Greek TV network NET is calling for about 159 combined seats between New Democracy and PASOK.
Here’s a look at their TV feed.
Photo: Business Insider
More to come…
The first polls are out and it’s insanely close.
The conservative, pro-bailout New Democracy party is leading by just 0.5% over the left-wing SYRIZA party according to exit polls published by Greek media.
There’s no guarantee that these polls will resemble the final night, but this is TIGHT, and the world is now on edge.
Here’s the screen of Greek network MEGA showing the initial results.
And here’s the foreign press core crowding up in front of the TV.
This is MUCH tighter than people had expected.
The next wave of results will be out around 1:00 PM ET, and we’ll have them here LIVE.
In the meantime, here’s an interesting tweet from journalists Amalia Negroponti on where SYRIZA support came from.
UPDATE: While we wait for more results, click here to see how we could end up in a double-nightmare scenario tonight.
ATHENS, GREECE — Here it comes! The most anticipated Greek election in history is coming to an end, as polls close at 7 PM Athens time (12:00 PM ET). The first wave of exit polls will be out right then.
We’re here at Business Insider Greek Election HQ to watch the information come in, and to learn if the pro-bailout New Democracy party, and its leader Antonis Samaras, can hold off the upstart leftist Alexis Tsipras, and get enough votes to form a government.
The last wave of polling (both in private and in public) suggested that Samaras had a modest lead, but the situation, as they say, is extremely fluid.
The entire world is watching. Here at the foreign media centre I’ve seen reporters Japan, Bolivia, and everywhere in between.
The assumption is that a Samaras win would be better for the markets, and that a Tsipras victory would put Greece into conflict with the rest of the Eurozone, thus creating the possibility of a Greek exit. But nothing is clear, and Tsipras (and his supporters) strongly reject the argument made by conservatives that they are somehow anti-euro.
We’ll be covering the result (and the market reaction) LIVE all night.
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