With more than 65% of votes now counted, the socialist Pasok party had nearly 44% compared to 34.6% of the vote for the centre-right New Democracy party. This almost certainly gives the socialists their largest victory margin ever. The centre-right government had been assailed by corruption scandals and a growing economic crisis. Conceding defeat, prime minister Constantine Karamanlis said he had failed to convince Greeks to accept the two years of austerity measures he had called for to steer the country out of its economic crisis. Karamanlis also stepped down as leader of the New Democracy party. He called early elections last month, aiming to win a fresh mandate and stave off labour unrest. He had called for a freeze in public sector wages to fight rising debt and unemployment, but had difficulty pushing through important economic and structural reforms because he governed with a one-vote majority in parliament. The victory by the socialists in Greece is rare in Europe, where the left has been losing ground and often been unable to capitalise on the financial crisis for its own political gains.
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