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Greek conservatives win local elections in crucial test ahead of early national polls

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-06-03 10:35

Main opposition New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis casts his vote for the second round of local elections in Athens, Greece on June 2, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

ATHENS - Greek conservatives of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party won the second round of local elections on Sunday, which had turned into a crucial test for all parties ahead of the early national polls which will most likely be held on July 7.

ND backed candidates won 12 out of 13 regions across Greece and the overwhelming majority of the 332 municipalities, according to the official results released by the Interior ministry, with 75 percent and 62 percent of votes counted respectively.

ND had won a strong lead in the first round on May 26 which coincided with the European Parliament elections.

Following the conservatives' victory also in the European battle with 33.1 percent of votes against 24 percent for the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has decided to proceed to snap national polls.

After the second round of local elections, he will visit Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to initiate the procedures for early elections, Tsipras said on the night of May 26.

The general elections will most likely be held on July 7, the government said last week.

An opinion survey released on Sunday evening showed that SYRIZA was trailing ND in the battle for the national elections as well.

Should ballots for general elections were held this Sunday; the conservatives would win with 31.5-36.5 percent of votes against 22.5-27.5 percent for SYRIZA, according to a survey conducted by polling firm Pulse for local SKAI television.

The centrist Movement for Change (Kinima Allagis- KINAL) would rank third with 6.5-9.5 percent of votes and the Greek Communist party KKE would follow with 4.5-6.5 percent.

The last two parties passing the three percent of votes threshold required to enter the next parliament would be the far-right Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) and the right-wing nationalistic Elliniki Lysi (Greek Solution), receiving 4-6 percent and 3-5 percent respectively.

The survey was carried out in the period May 30-June 1 on a sample of 1,358 voters.

On Sunday evening Tsipras congratulated all new mayors and regional governors and sent the message that the war is not over.

"In life and politics it is important to know how to win, but also how to lose and stand on your feet to continue fighting," he told media on Syntagma square standing next to SYRIZA's candidates who lost the battles for the Regional Governor of Attica and the municipality of Athens.

ND candidate Giorgos Patoulis defeated outgoing Regional Governor of Attica Rena Dourou by 66 percent against 34 percent, according to the official results. And conservative Kostas Bakoyannis won the battle for the municipality of Athens with 65 percent of votes against 35 percent for SYRIZA's Nassos Iliopoulos.

Both Patoulis and Bakoyannis in line with ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis' statement following the results called on all Greeks to unite to work for a better future on local, regional and national level.

"The map was painted in blue again, but this is not the color of our party, but the color of our country," Mitsotakis said on Sunday night.

"We will all move forward together for a city of Athens which unites us," Bakoyannis told the cheering crowd.

Bakoyannis, scion of a political dynasty, is the nephew of Mitsotakis. His late grandfather served as Prime Minister. His mother Dora Bakoyannis has served as Mayor of Athens and Foreign Affairs Minister.

The contests for the post of the mayor of Athens and Regional Governor of Attica are traditionally key races in Greek elections, as half of the country's population lives in Athens and its suburbs.

In the mayoral race in the port of Piraeus, the incumbent Yannis Moralis was re-elected with 58 percent of votes.

Abstention in Sunday's elections reached 60 percent, up from 41 percent on May 26.

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