Greece's ruling Socialists emerged victorious Monday from local elections, but their main rivals to both left and right claimed big gains.
Of the 276 municipalities, 175 were won by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, or by minor leftwing parties with which it was closely allied. A total of 49 went to New Democracy, the conservative party that ruled Greece until Pasok came to power a year ago. The pro-Moscow Communists took 43, and 9 went to independents. Political commentators said that if voting patterns were repeated at national level, the Communist Party would sharply increase its share of seats in Parliament, making it virtually impossible to form a left-wing government without them.