Greek voters voice no regrets despite political chaos (+video)
Fed up with austerity, Greeks overwhelmingly voted against the mainstream parties that approved the bailout. They say they will do it again if another election has to be held.
(Page 2 of 2)
But Hollande's margin of manoeuvre will be limited by the need to compromise with euro zone paymaster Germany, which insists on strict fiscal policies.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Greece's two mainstream parties are closer to power than their 32 percent share of the vote might suggest, and could be gambling that they can win a mandate in a new election.
Under rules designed to make it easier to form a government, New Democracy was given a bonus of 50 extra seats in the 300-seat parliament for placing first. Along with PASOK, it emerged just two seats short of the 151 needed to form a government.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras failed when given the first opportunity to form a coalition. Alexis Tsipras, a radical leftist, has now been given until Thursday to form a government, but is seen as having virtually no chance after he demanded any coalition partners agree to tear up the bailout accord.
If Tsipras fails as expected, PASOK leader EvangelosVenizelos would also have a chance, but it is hard to see how he can succeed where Samaras failed, meaning a new election would probably be announced next week.
Samaras may be reckoning that some of the voters who cast protest votes on Sunday will hold their noses and back him in a repeat election, so that he can form a government at last.
Theoharis Konstantinou, 32, a lawyer who voted for one of the two pro-bailout parties, said he hoped those who cast protest votes would change their minds.
"Everybody (in Europe) is looking at our mess. I hope people realize what they did and vote more responsibly next time."
Pollsters said the outcome of a repeat election would behard to predict, not least because – according to exit polls – 6 out of 10 people voted differently than in the previous election, when 77 percent backed New Democracy or PASOK.
Many Greeks said they wanted to see a swift coalition and blamed the politicians for causing chaos by stalling.
"The leaders should cooperate, put things in order. It's their fault anyway, they brought us here," said Christie Papanikolaou, 50, owner of a clothing shop.
She voted for New Democracy and would do the same in a new poll, although she said she understood those who cast ballots for fringe parties.
Eleni Papadopoulou, an unemployed 25-year-old, said she had voted for a small party and did not regret it, "although I am scared now."
"I wish they would have formed a coalition government by now because we want stability."
Among the only voters who expressed regret were some of those who cast ballots for extreme-right Golden Dawn, out of concern for illegal immigration and rising crime.
Many reacted with shock after the fringe nationalist party scored 7 percent in the election and media published photos showing a party member posing with knives and bullets.
"I just wanted them to get into parliament but not to be so big. I just wanted them in to rock the system," said a clothing shop clerk who identified herself as Vaia, 30.
Making a Difference