Greece escapes snap election after local poll

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday dropped his threat to call a snap election after his Socialist Party avoided a heavy defeat in the first round of regional elections, Euronews reported. The Socialists currently lead in seven of Greece’s thirteen electoral regions. Turnout was 60 percent. Papandreou said the results gave him a renewed mandate for his planned austerity measures. “We know that change is not easy. But it was for this change that the Greek people brought us to power a year ago. And today it again confirmed that it wants this change,” he said, adding “we will continue with our task tomorrow.”

The austerity plan formed part of the EUR 110 bln bailout agreed with the IMF and the EU in May. Under the agreement, Greece must implement deep spending cuts, reform pensions and liberalise a number of ‘closed-shop’ professions. The aim is to reduce the country’s fiscal deficit and pay off its sovereign debt. Investors feared the threat of a snap election and a new government would see some of those promises broken. The second round of the regional poll takes place on November 14.

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