Pro-bailout party wins Greek election
The sound you hear is the collective exhale of breath from the continent of Europe. The pro-bailout party in Greece has won a narrow plurality in the parliamentary elections held on Sunday.
Greek voters on Sunday gave a narrow victory in parliamentary elections to a party that had supported a bailout for the country's failed economy. The vote was widely seen as a last chance for Greece to remain in the euro zone, and the results had an early rallying effect on world markets.
Greece's choice was welcomed by the finance ministers of the euro zone countries, who in a statement on Sunday night in Brussels said the outcome of the vote "should allow for the formation of a government that will carry the support of the electorate to bring Greece back on a path of sustainable growth."
While the election afforded Greece a brief respite from a rapid downward spiral, it is not likely to prevent a showdown between the next government and the country's so-called troika of foreign creditors - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - over the terms of a bailout agreement.
Even the most pro-Europe of Greece's political parties, the conservative New Democracy, which came in first, has said a less austere agreement is crucial to a country with a 22 percent unemployment rate and the rising prospect of social unrest.
The euro zone ministers pledged to help Greece transform its economy and said continued fiscal and structural changes were the best way to cope with its economic challenges. "The Eurogroup reiterates its commitment to assist Greece in its adjustment effort in order to address the many challenges the economy is facing," the statement said.
New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras now must find a partner who will brave the political winds and join him in a coalition. The old, mainstream socialist party PASOK is a likely candidate, The once powerful mainstream socialists fell to third place in the voting picking up only 33 seats. But that will be enough to form a pro-bailout government and begin the delicate negotiations with the EU to pare back some of the austerity measures that have thrown the country into a deep recession.
The crisis in Greece has abated - for now. And the political outcome may also help Spain as their borrowing costs - soaring last week on fears of a Greek exit from the euro - should ease considerably.
The can is still being successfully kicked down the road in Europe. Leaders have been given a reprieve to come up with a more permanent solution to the eurozone's problems. Whether they take advantage of it is anyone's guess.