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Pro-bailout parties win election, Greece to stay in joint euro currency

By Demetris Nellas and Elena Becatoros

Published: Sunday, June 17 2012 10:51 p.m. MDT

A woman waits inside a polling station in Athens, Sunday, June 17, 2012. Greeks voted Sunday for the second time in six weeks in what was arguably their country's most critical election in 40 years, with the country's treasured place within the European Union's joint currency in the balance. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)

Associated Press

BERLIN — Fears of an imminent Greek exit from Europe's joint currency receded Sunday after the conservative New Democracy came first in critical elections and pro-bailout parties won enough Parliamentary seats to form a joint government.

As central banks stood ready to intervene in case of financial turmoil, Greece held its second national election in six weeks after an inconclusive ballot on May 6.

With one party advocating ripping up Greece's multi-billion euro bailout deal, the election was seen as a vote on whether Greece should stay in the 17-nation joint euro currency. A Greek exit would have had potentially catastrophic consequences for other ailing European nations, the United States and the entire global economy.

With 82.5 percent of the vote counted, official results showed the conservative New Democracy winning 30 percent and 130 of the 300 seats in Parliament. The radical anti-bailout Syriza party had 26.6 percent and 71 seats and the pro-bailout Socialist PASOK party came in third with 12.5 percent of the vote and 33 seats.

The anti-immigrant nationalist Golden Dawn party had 6.9 percent and 18 seats, while the Democratic left won 6.1 percent and 18 seats.

The parties have starkly different views about what to do about the $300 billion in bailout loans that Greece has been given by international lenders, and the harsh austerity measures that previous Greek governments had to accept to get the funds.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras cast Sunday's choice as one between keeping the euro and returning to Greece's old currency, the drachma. He has vowed to renegotiate some of the bailout's harsher terms but insists the top priority is for the country to remain in Europe's joint currency.

"The Greek people today voted for Greece to remain on its European path and in the eurozone," Samaras said after his party won.

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