Karamanlis Won SecondTerm inGreece

(September 17, 2007)--Ruling New Democracy party and Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis were swept back into power in Sunday's snap election, posting a better than projected victory in the wake of late August's wildfires in southern Greece, whereas main opposition PASOK party failed to capitalize on voter discontent.

With some 99% of the votes counted (17.9.2007, 9:30 GMT), Karamanlis' New Democracy has about 41.8% of the vote, against about 38.1% for the PASOK party led by George Papandreou. New Democracy had held 165 of the 300 seats in the outgoing parliament and now has a slimmer majority of 152 seats.

The Communist Party of Greece was recorded at 8.1% and 22 seats ; the Radical Left Coalition at 5% (14 seats) and the currently out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally at 3.8% (10 seats).

Speaking to supporters, Karamanlis said his party had a " clear mandate" to continue reforms to fight poverty and maintain a stable economy. Karamanlis added that he feels a "double responsibility" for making his government better and avoiding mistakes in the future; one that is more effective and closer to citizens. Less than a month after the devastating wildfires, a re-elected Karamanlis said all of the government's commitments towards the fire-ravaged areas and individuals will be met.

Thanking his supporters for showing their "love and trust," George Papandreou said: "PASOK fought a battle and lost it." Addressing a post-election press conference, Papandreou admitted that the message received from voters was that "people consider that we also share responsibilities for the situation prevailing in the country." Papandreou announced his intention to ask party members to renew their confidence in him so as "to proceed with major changes within the party." Papandreou immediately faced a challenge to his leadership from former Minister Evangelos Venizelos. "While PASOK could and should have won, for the good of the country, it lost. We have unfortunately suffered a clear and great defeat," said Venizelos.

(Posting date 29 September 2007)

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