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Conservatives win Greek snap general elections, marks Syriza era end (Lead)

Alexis Tsipras20190708140136_l

Athens, July 8 (IANS) The conservative New Democracy party was the clear winner in the snap general elections in Greece, signaling an end to the rule of the left-wing Syriza coalition that has helmed the government since 2015.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras acknowledged this Sunday his defeat and congratulated the winner, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, reports Efe news.

In a telephone conversation, both leaders agreed that the transfer of power would take place on Monday, immediately after which Mitsotakis is set to be sworn in before the nation’s President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, at a ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m.

When his victorious vote-count was in on Sunday night, Mitsotakis promised to work for growth and employment in the country.

"I asked for a strong mandate and you have been generous in giving it to me. I will not disappoint you," said Mitsotakis, whose party has gained an absolute majority in the new parliament.

He promised that his government would be guided by the principles of transparency and meritocracy, and announced that the Hellenic Parliament would be in session all summer "because the future cannot wait".

New Democracy won 39.8 per cent of the vote and 158 seats in a legislature of 300, seven more than the number of lawmakers needed for an absolute majority.

After Sunday’s polls, which were the first general elections in Greece since the nation’s economic bailout, Syriza will be left with 86 seats after garnering 31.6 percent of ballots.

In third place is the centrist Movement for Change (Kinal) party, the successor to the traditional social democratic party Pasok, with 8.1 per cent and 22 seats, followed by the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) with 5.3 per cent and 15 seats.

The surprise of the day could be in store for the neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn, who could be left out of Parliament if it is confirmed that they have failed to top the 3 per cent threshold needed for parliamentary representation. The early vote tally pegged their results at around 2.95 per cent of the total vote.

However, the new far-right Greek Solution party does have a chance, as it is projected to have won 3.8 per cent of the vote, which would give it 10 seats.

Another recently-formed party with possibilities to enter the legislative branch is the leftist Mera25 group, founded by former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. It is expected to earn 3.4 percent of ballots, which would give it nine seats.

Voter turnout stood at around 57 per cent, one of the lowest rates in recent decades. Still, it was slightly better than expected, considering that the elections were held during the summer vacations amid a heatwave that saw thermometers registering temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius.