Greek Voters Take 'Last Chance' To Stay In EU; French Give Historic Majority To Socialists

Greek voters gave the edge to the conservative and pro-austerity New Democracy party in yesterday's elections, presumably to preserve their membership in the very flawed European Union: ATHENS — Greek voters on Sunday gave a narrow victory

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Greek voters gave the edge to the conservative and pro-austerity New Democracy party in yesterday's elections, presumably to preserve their membership in the very flawed European Union:

ATHENS — 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 also 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 that a less austere agreement is crucial to a country where the unemployment rate is 22 percent and the prospect of social unrest is rising.

In France, however, actual Socialists won a majority in runoff elections, giving President Francois Hollande strong support for his legislative agenda:

PARIS — President François Hollande’s Socialists and their allies won an absolute majority in runoff parliamentary elections on Sunday, strengthening the hand of Mr. Hollande both at home and in Europe, where he is pressing for less austerity and more growth in the face of a deepening recession.

He will travel to the Group of 20 summit meeting in Mexico on Monday with his authority reinforced as a spokesman for the European left and a proponent for economic stimulus and job creation.

Mr. Hollande will also be able to keep a Socialist government and pass legislation with little difficulty, without having to rely on the far left, which is more antagonistic to the European Union. Nor will he need to rely on the support of the Greens.

According to projections from partial vote counts, the Socialists’ parliamentary bloc obtained 296 to 321 seats — considerably more than the 289 needed for a majority in the National Assembly. The Greens are expected to win 20 seats, and the far left is likely to take 10.

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