Greek election: LIVE REPORT

00:39 GMT – Closing summary – The anti-austerity Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras is on course to be the largest party in the new Greek parliament, setting up a potential confrontation with EU leaders over his demand for a 50 percent cut in Greece’s debts, that have spiralled to 318 billion euros.

If the result is confirmed, Syriza would become the first anti-austerity party in government in Europe and 40-year-old Tsipras would be Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years.

However, Syriza looks set to fall short of the 151 seats required for an overall majority in the 300 seat unicameral parliament.

With 93 percent of the votes counted, the Interior Ministry predicts Syriza will take 36.34 percent and qualify for 149 seats, forcing it to seek an alliance with a smaller party, possibly To Potami (The River).

Tsipras tells supporters Greece is “leaving behind disastrous austerity”

“The verdict of our people means the troika is finished,” he says, referring to the country’s international lenders the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

The Syriza leader says Greece will work with its creditors for for a “viable” debt deal.

Syriza has vowed to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s 240 billion euro ($269 billion) bailout and reverse the public sector spending cuts and labour market reforms that were introduced in return for the emergency aid.

The ruling New Democracy party came a distant second, projected by the Interior Ministry to finish with 27.84 percent and just 76 seats.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has conceded defeat, saying: “I hand over a country that is part of the EU and the euro. For the good of this country, I hope the next government will maintain what has been achieved.”Closing summary

00:32 GMT – Hollande’s friendship – French President Francois Hollande congratulates Alexis Tsipras on Syriza’s victory, stressing “the friendship uniting France and Greece,” a statement says.

Hollande has told Tsipras of “his wish for close cooperation between our two countries, in the serice of growth and stability in the eurozone, in the spirit of progress, solidarity and responsibility which is at the heart of the European values we share,” the statement adds.

00:11 GMT – Debt cut – It would be a mistake to refuse to reduce Greece’s debt, says Paul De Grauwe of the London School of Economics, as this would “condemn Greece to several difficult years and encourage extremist political movements… that could strongly shake up the eurozone as a whole”.

00:17 GMT – Euro low – The euro briefly sinks to a new 11-year low against the dollar in early Asian trade Monday after anti-austerity party Syriza sweeps to victory in Greece’s general elections.

The single currency was trading at $1.1185 at about 0010 GMT after dipping to $1.1088 in Tokyo early morning trade, the lowest level since September 2003.

00:10 GMT – EURO SINKS BRIEFLY TO 11-YEAR LOW VS DOLLAR AFTER GREEK VOTE

00:09 GMT – Clock ticking – The clock is ticking for urgent action to tackle Greece’s mountain of debt, with a two-month extension from creditors — granted to conclude an audit that will determine the release of the next tranche of seven billion euros in loans — due to expire on February 28.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin has already said the EU should be open to discussions with the new Greek government on restructuring its debt or extending the bailout terms.

00:07 GMT – Poker game – The first indications of the EU’s reaction will come on Monday, with a long-scheduled meeting of eurozone finance ministers, where talk of Greece’s unsustainable debt level will top the agenda.

“It’s definitely an important victory for Syriza. Now we have to see what Tsipras will propose,” said Italy’s EU affairs minister Sandro Gozi.

There will also be close scrutiny of Germany’s response, the country seen as the driving force behind the bloc’s austerity drive.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Syriza are on track “for an exciting game of poker”, says Julian Rappold, an expert on European politics at the German Council on Foreign Relations think tank, adding that Tsipras’s victory could have wider European repercussions.

– Eyes on EU –

00:15 GMT – EU tensions – There will be plenty of “tense” moments between Athens and Brussels in the weeks to come, a top European official says, not wishing to be named.

“We will not escape a re-negotiation (of the bailout),” another European source tells AFP.

00:05 GMT – Collision course – Syriza’s resounding election win leaves the European Union caught between finding a compromise with its leader Alexis Tsipras and making concessions that will be hard to swallow for countries such as Germany, analysts say.

Having won over a frustrated Greek public with fighting talk of renegotiating the country’s 240-billion-euro ($269 billion) rescue package and leaving behind years of painful spending cuts, Tsipras has put himself firmly on a collision course with Brussels.

00:03 GMT – 90% counted – With 90 percent of votes counted, according to the Interior Ministry, Syriza are stuck on a predicted tally of 149 seats, from 36.32 percent share of the vote.

00:01 GMT – ANEL – A party born of Greece’s economic crisis, the nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) helped Syriza block a presidential vote in December that brought about Sunday’s general election.

Party leader Panos Kammenos, 49, has been preening himself as a potential partner for Syriza ever since.

The party won 3.47 percent in the European elections and now stands to pick up around 4.7 percent, enough for 13 seats in parliament.

00:00 GMT – To Potami – Created in 2014, To Potami (Greek for ‘The River’) is a pro-European party presenting itself as the voice of common sense in Greece.

Its founder, 51-year-old former star journalist Stavros Theodorakis, shares Syriza’s conviction that Greece’s debt needs to be renegotiated, but not at the cost of risking the country’s place in Europe.

“We will back the effort to keep the country in Europe,” Theodorakis said late on Sunday, with his party set to finish in fourth place with nearly 6.0 percent of the vote, enough for 16 seats in parliament.

23:53 GMT – Two parties – There are two parties with which Syriza is likely to be able to find enough common ground to form a coalition: the pro-European To Potami (The River) and the nationalist Independent Greeks.

Both parties have said they will not join a government if the other is included.

– Potential partners –

23:55 GMT – Activists – Another Italian, Antonio Alicino, feels Syriza will need help to change the established mentality in Europe.

“Alone, they will be too isolated to succeed. We must show that a large section of European peoples stand behind them,” he said.

Among the foreign delegation is Alejandro Bordart, a lawmaker from the Socialist Workers’ Party of Argentina, a country sharing Greece’s debt woes.

“I want to see if an alternative policy is possible, as Argentina has been grappling with the debt question for 30 years,” he said.

23:23 GMT – ‘Example for all’ – Syriza’s victory is a welcome boost for anti-austerity parties across Europe, and leftist activists from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Argentina are in Athens to cherish the moment.

“What is happening here is an example for us,” says Claudia Moriggi, an activist from Rome.

“The left in Italy is scattered and has been unable to find a leader like Alexis Tsipras. Let us hope this will provide an impetus,” she says.

23:57 GMT – ‘Go to hell’ – “It’s a new team and its policy programme has us smiling,” says Eleni Papadopoulou, a 43-year-old private sector employee. “We had a very difficult time during the crisis. I hope this will change,” she tells AFP.

“Troika, keep calm and go to hell,” reads a banner at the Syriza platform, referring to the three creditors — the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

23:12 GMT – Flags – Red and white flags emblazoned with Syriza’s tricolour motif wave outside the main party platform in central Athens, where hundreds of supporters gathered as election results poured in.

Many Syriza supporters say they are pinning their hopes on party leader Alexis Tsipras turning the country around after six years of recession which led to a massive international bailout.

“The time of the Left has come,” the crowd chants.

22:49 GMT – Cameron tweets – British Prime Minister David Cameron says on Twitter: “The Greek election will increase economic uncertainty across Europe. That’s why the UK must stick to our plan, delivering security at home.”

23:34 GMT – Summary so far – The anti-austerity Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras is on course to be the largest party in the new Greek parliament, setting up a potential confrontation with EU leaders over his demand for a 50 percent cut in Greece’s debts, that have spiralled to 318 billion euros.

Syriza’s victory makes it the first party in the eurozone to win an election on an anti-austerity platform and other left-wing parties in Europe welcomed the result.

However, it looks set to fall short of the 151 seats required for an overall majority in the 300 seat unicameral parliament.

With 85 percent of the votes counted, the Interior Ministry predicts Syriza will take 36.27 percent and qualify for 149 seats, forcing it to seek an alliance with a smaller party, likely to be To Potami (The River).

Tsipras tells supporters Greece is “leaving behind disastrous austerity”

“The verdict of our people means the troika is finished,” he says, referring to the country’s international lenders the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

The Syriza leader says Greece will work with its creditors for for a “viable” debt deal.

If the result is confirmed, Syriza would become the first anti-austerity party in government in Europe and 40-year-old Tsipras would be Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years.

Syriza has vowed to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s 240 billion euro ($269 billion) bailout and reverse the public sector spending cuts and labour market reforms that were introduced in return for the emergency aid.

The ruling New Democracy party came a distant second, projected by the Interior Ministry to finish with 27.90 percent and just 76 seats.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has conceded defeat, saying: “I hand over a country that is part of the EU and the euro. For the good of this country, I hope the next government will maintain what has been achieved.”

22:50 GMT – DAVID CAMERON SAYS SYRIZA’S VICTORY WILL “INCREASE ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY ACROSS EUROPE”

22:50 GMT – Open-necked shirts – An engineer by training, Tsipras was born in an Athens suburb in July 1974, a fateful year for Greece. It marked the collapse of a seven-year army dictatorship that mercilessly persecuted leftists and communists, and culminated in a bloody crackdown against a student uprising.

Once a brash motorbike-riding communist activist, the boyish father of two children who admires Che Guevara — naming his second son Orpheus Ernesto — has subtly modified his image as power and responsibility beckoned.

He has made efforts to improve his command of English and sought to boost his international standing through meetings with Pope Francis, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and even German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble — a man whose preoccupation with fiscal discipline he has attacked.

One thing has not changed — his shirts are still open-necked. Relaxing with journalists on the day before voting, he joked: “I’ll put a tie on when we get a haircut (debt reduction).”

22:50 GMT – Tsipras profile – Alexis Tsipras, whose Syriza party won the Greek general election for the first time in its history on Sunday, is set to become the country’s first radical left-wing prime minister, and the youngest in more than 150 years.

He brings to the job a burning passion to dump the austerity policies that his party says have brought a “humanitarian crisis” to Greece.

“Greece is turning a page, leaving behind disastrous austerity… and five years of humiliation,” Tsipras told a jubilant crowd of supporters in central Athens after his party won a clear victory.

Tsipras, who in the last election in 2012 was just 170,000 votes short of victory, has come a long way from his days as a communist youth activist.

The Greek public first learned his name in 1990 when, as a 17-year-old, he led a school sit-in and told a TV interviewer: “We want the right to judge for ourselves whether to skip class.”

– ‘Turning a page’-

22:48 GMT – Syriza’s pledges – Syriza says it wants to immediately raise the minimum salary from 580 to 751 euros ($650 to $840) a month.

People working and those already retired would have a “13th month” of pension if their monthly pension is less than 700 euros.

Coupons for food and electricity would be given to at least 300,000 households and people’s primary places of residence would be protected from repossession.

Other Syriza priorities include guaranteeing access to free medical care and scrapping tax on heating fuel.

The party believes the “emergency” plan will cost 12 billion euros which they say they will raise from securing reduced repayments on the national debt, by re-directing EU funds, and by cutting tax fraud and smuggling.

The problem is that releasing these funds cannot be done overnight. Analysts at Eurobank believe a Syriza government would have “a very narrow margin for manoeuvre” and Greece could soon see its debt repayments climb.

22:29 GMT – Victory dance – People in the Tsipras family’s home village of Athamanio in the Epirus region of northwest Greece broke into dancing as the first results were declared showing Syriza well in the lead, according to pictures broadcast on Mega television.

22:18 GMT – ‘Good night’ – In the crowd around Alexis Tsipras, a woman carries a placard saying in German: “Good night, Mrs Merkel”. Above it in smaller letters are the words “It truly is a…”.

22:00 GMT – 50% debt cut? – Tsipras has said he will immediately seek a 50-percent reduction in Greece’s debts that have spiralled to 318 billion euros.

He says international lenders have put Greece in an “unsustainable” position, forcing it to make ever greater debt repayments while its economic output shrivels.

The IMF has warned Greece — which is only slowly emerging from six years of recession — that failure to repay its debts will carry “consequences”.

22:24 GMT – ‘Grexit’ fears – Tsipras will quickly come under pressure to deliver on his pledges to reverse the sweeping public sector spending cuts and labour market reforms that were introduced in exchange for the 2010 bailout.

Reform minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, of New Democracy, congratulated Syriza but said it had made promises it would find hard to keep.

Sunday’s parliamentary polls were Greece’s fourth general election in five years, including back-to-back votes in 2012.

Financial markets have been spooked at the prospect of Greece being forced to leave the eurozone, the so-called “Grexit”, if Tsipras fails to agree a new debt deal with lenders.

21:37 GMT – Major chance – “Today there are no winners and no losers,” Tsipiras says.

“Our priority is to deal with the wounds of the crisis, provide justice, break with the oligarchs, the establishment and corruption.”

“We have ahead of us a major chance for Greece and Europe.”

“We want neither to submit to or break with” Greece’s creditors, the Syriza leader says.

– ‘No winners or losers’ –

21:34 GMT – Two-thirds counted – With around two-thirds of votes counted, the Interior Ministry is still predicting Syriza will fall short of the 151 seats it needs for an overall majority. Syriza is on 36.09 percent, qualifying them for 149 seats, with runners-up New Democracy on 28.09 percent, worth 77 seats, ministry projections show.

21:31 GMT – Summary so far – The anti-austerity Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras is on course to be the largest party in the new Greek parliament but looks set to fall short of the 151 seats required for an overall majority.

With just over half the votes counted, the Interior Ministry predicts Syriza will hold 148 seats, forcing it to seek an alliance with a smaller party, likely to be To Potami (The River).

Tsipras tells supporters Greece is “leaving behind disastrous austerity”

“The verdict of our people means the troika is finished,” he says, referring to the country’s international lenders the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

The Syriza leader says Greece will work with its creditors for for a “viable” debt deal.

If the result is confirmed, Syriza would become the first anti-austerity party in government in Europe and 40-year-old Tsipras would be Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years.

Syriza has vowed to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s 240-billion-euro ($269 billion) bailout and reverse the public sector spending cuts and labour market reforms that were introduced in return for the emergency aid.

21:48 GMT – ‘Viable’ deal targeted – Greece will work with its EU-IMF creditors for a “viable” debt deal but is determined to leave behind “disastrous austerity,” Alexis Tsipras says after his party wins the general election.

“The new Greek government will be ready to cooperate and negotiate for the first time with our peers a just, mutually beneficial and viable solution,” Tsipras tells thousands of supporters at the party’s main campaign stage in Athens.

21:27 GMT – TSIPRAS SAYS GREECE WILL WORK WITH ITS CREDITORS FOR A VIABLE DEBT DEAL

21:24 GMT – ‘GREECE LEAVING BEHIND DISASTROUS AUSTERITY’ SAYS TSIPRAS

21:20 GMT – ‘Troika finished’ – Greece is “leaving behind disastrous austerity” and the so-called troika of creditors “is finished”, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras says after his party wins the general election.

“The verdict of our people means the troika is finished,” the 40-year-old Tsipras says, referring to the country’s international lenders the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

21:25 GMT – ‘TROIKA OF GREEK CREDITORS IS FINISHED’ SAYS TSIPRAS

– New direction –

20:52 GMT – Samaras ‘hands over’ – Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says the nation “has spoken” in handing victory to the anti-austerity Syriza party, and he hopes the new government will not endanger the country’s EU and euro membership.

“I hand over a country that is part of the EU and the euro. For the good of this country, I hope the next government will maintain what has been achieved,” Samaras says in a brief address to reporters.

20:49 GMT – Cliffhanger – The vote count is turning out to be a cliffhanger as the regular update of the Interior Ministry website shows Syriza just below the 151-seat threshold it needs to have an overall majority in parliament and avoid the need to bring in other parties.

With 54.83 percent of votes counted, ministry figures show Syriza on 35.91 percent, or 148 seats, and New Democracy on 28.31 percent, or 78 seats.

21:09 GMT – Thousands await Tsipras – In central Athens on the esplanade outside the University of Athens, several thousand people have gathered to await a speech from Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras. Currently still at party headquarters, he is expected on the podium any time now.

20:58 GMT – Samaras speech – Outgoing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras arrives to give a speech at the Zappeion ceremonial building. His supporters chant “Hellas, Hellas, Samaras” (Greece, Greece, Samaras).

20:43 GMT – Samaras calls Tsipras – Outgoing Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has conceded defeat in the general election, the victorious anti-austerity Syriza party says.

Samaras telephoned to congratulate 40-year-old Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, who responded that “there is joy and sorrow in politics,” Tsipras’s office tells AFP

20:37 GMT – OUTGOING GREEK PM CONCEDES DEFEAT IN ELECTIONS SAYS SYRIZA

– Defeat for Samaras –

20:35 GMT – Coalition partner? – Golden Dawn has performed strongly despite an ongoing criminal investigation that has left many of its leadership awaiting trial on charges including murder.

The aggressively anti-immigration party is set to take 17 seats, nearly the same representation it had in the previous parliament.

Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos said his party would finish third despite the “illegal incarceration” of several top members and its “exclusion” from the mainstream media.

Pro-European party To Potami is likely to finish fourth — and is the most likely coalition partner for Syriza if it needs one — followed by the KKE communist party, the Pasok socialists and the nationalist Independent Greeks party.

20:22 GMT – Third political force – “Golden Dawn is the third political force,” the party’s leader Nikos Michaloliakos says from his prison cell in Athens, where he remains in custody.

“As the constitution sets out, we will take the third role in the process of forming a government,” he said, as results with around a third of votes counted show Golden Dawn on 6.4 percent.

If Syriza fails to win an absolute majority, leader Alexis Tsipras will tomorrow go to see President Carolos Papoulias, who will bestow on him an “exploratory mandate” of three days to try to form official alliances with other parties for a coalition holding at least 151 of the 300 seats.

If this procedure fails, Papoulias will award the same mandate to the second party, New Democracy, and, if necessary, the third party, Golden Dawn.

20:20 GMT – Seven parties – Election organisers say seven parties have made it into parliament, including neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn, but it is unclear whether Syriza will secure the 151 seats necessary for an absolute majority in the 300-seat parliament.

“There is an ongoing thriller surrounding the absolute majority,” said Michalis Karyotoglou, head of Singular Logic, the software group overseeing the vote process for the Interior Ministry.

Syriza is projected to win between 149 and 151 seats “but we might have to wait for the complete ballot count”, Karyotoglou said.

20:10 GMT – Avramopoulos calls Tsipras – The EU commissioner for migration and home affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is vice-president of New Democracy, is the first party member to call Alexis Tsipras to congratulate him. Recent talk suggested Avramopoulos could be a Syriza candidate to be president of Greece.

19:55 GMT – Clear lead – The party standings are looking fairly consistent as the Interior Ministry publishes more results. With 33.39 percent of votes counted, Syriza are rated at 35.57 percent, equivalent to 147 seats, and New Democracy at 28.70 percent, worth 79 seats, the ministry says.

19:45 GMT – ‘Major victory’ – “We are neither satisfied nor discontented with the election results of a partner nation in Europe,” says Italy’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Sandro Gozi.

“We respect the vote and we are ready to work with the new government in Athens,” he told Affariitaliani.it, according to AGI newsagency.

“It is a major victory for Syriza. Now we must see what proposals Tsipras will make. We think that after this vote we will have new opportunities to seek change in Europe in favour of growth, investment and the struggle against unemployment,” Gozi said.

– Reaction –

19:41 GMT – Anti-riot police – Anti-riot police are stationed in front of new state television service Nerit in the northern suburbs of Athens, the Greek press agency reports.

Nerit replaced the former Ert, shut down in June 2013 as part of the government’s austerity programme. Zoe Konstantopoulou, a Syriza MP, earlier on Sunday visited the offices of Ert-open, an Internet service set up by people made redundant from Ert.

19:34 GMT – Syriza 35% so far – Results with 15.5 percent of constituencies counted:

Syriza 34.93 percent, New Democracy 29.44 percent, Golden Dawn 6.26 percent, To Potami 5.58 percent, KKE (Communists) 5.29 percent, PASOK (Socialists) 5.25 percent, Independent Greeks 4.6 percent

19:30 GMT – PARTIAL GREEK ELECTION RESULTS SHOW SYRIZA VICTORY

19:15 GMT – Latest polls – Syriza took between 36 and 38 percent of the vote, according to updated exit polls, compared with 26-28 percent for the conservative New Democracy party of incumbent Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

If the result is confirmed, Syriza would become the first anti-austerity party in government in Europe.

Analysts say Syriza’s absolute majority hinges on whether a new party formed by former socialist prime minister George Papandreou will muster the 3.0 percent required for parliamentary representation.

First results are due in the next few minutes.

18:55 GMT – Klafthmonos Square – On Klafthmonos Square in central Athens, hundreds of people are waving flags near the Syriza stage as they watch the latest election figures from the Interior Ministry on screens set up by the party.

18:53 GMT – Volatile times – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen as the driving force behind the EU’s austerity push, said on Friday she wanted Greece to stay in the eurozone “despite the difficulties”.

Unicredit chief economist Erik Nielsen says Greece is in for a “volatile month” and a deal is still possible, but the viability of an anti-austerity government is less certain.

Greece has gone into rapid economic decline since the eurozone crisis began, pushing unemployment above 25 percent.

18:44 GMT – ‘Important victory’ – Projections show that Syriza may win an absolute majority of up 158 seats in the 300-seat parliament, meaning it could rule without a coalition partner.

In exchange for the huge bailout by the EU and the International Monetary Fund in 2010, Greece was forced to accept stringent cuts in public sector spending and tax and pay cuts.

The possibility of a Syriza-led government reversing those measures has raised concerns that Greece could default on its debt and quit the group of 19 countries using the single European currency, although Syriza says it is not its aim to leave the eurozone.

Antonis Balousis, a 54-year-old butcher standing near the Syriza stage, says: “This is a very important victory for Greece and Europe.

“We are going to prove that a different kind of politics is possible in Europe.”

– Absolute majority? –

18:21 GMT – Turning a page – “The country is turning a page. The people are taking the future into their own hands,” Yannis Milios, an academic and a Syriza economic specialist tells Ana news agency.

“The Syriza national salvation government will protect the interests of the majority of society. This victory is not just a single message but the start of change across Europe,” he adds.

The economic plan proposed by current Finance Minister Guikas Hardouvelis “is dead”, Milios says.

Anna Melin, 30, an aide to French socialist MP Pouria Amirshani, has joined the throng around the Syriza stage in central Athens. “They said there was only one way forward for Europe. Not so!” she tells AFP’s Will Vassilopoulos.

18:17 GMT – Red flags – Red flags of left-wing parties in Italy, Tunisia, Germany and other nations are fluttering around Syriza’s stage in central Athens, illustrating how international Syriza’s anti-austerity campaign has become.

18:10 GMT – Tsipras’s village – In the Tsipras family’s home village of Athamanio in north-western Greece, people are celebrating after exit polls predict victory for Syriza, website Real.news reports..

Alexis Tsipras’s grandfather hailed from Athamanio, one of Greece’s many mountain villages that supported the resistance against the Nazis in 1944, alongside the communists.

18:07 GMT – EU shockwaves – A Syriza victory is likely to send shockwaves through the austerity-hit European Union and spark fears that Greece could leave the euro.

Syriza wants to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s 240-billion-euro ($269 billion) bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund which the party says is stifling any chance Greece has of recovering from a six-year recession.

17:55 GMT – Swelling crowds – The crowd is growing around the Syriza stage in central Athens. More than 2,000 people, according to police figures, have gathered around a tent in the party’s colours and are spilling onto the adjoining boulevard as loudspeakers play Greek music, reports AFP’s Marina Rafenberg.

17:46 GMT – Recap – Radical leftwing party Syriza has won Greece’s general election in a victory that could have a profound impact on the course of austerity in Europe, exit polls show.

Syriza has taken between 35.5 percent and 39.5 percent of the vote, according to the polls, compared with between 23-27 percent for the conservative New Democracy party.

If the result is confirmed, Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras could become Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years.

“This appears to be a historic victory, a message that does not only concern the Greek people,” Syriza party spokesman Panos Skourletis said.

“It resounds all over Europe and brings relief,” he said on Mega channel.

Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn and pro-European party To Potami are in a neck-and-neck race for third place with between 6.4 percent and 8.0 percent apiece, the polls showed.

17:37 GMT – Clear win – “Clear victory for Syriza” says the headline of Greece’s biggest news website in.gr, stressing “Syriza’s strong victory according to exit polls”.

– Syriza victory –

17:30 GMT – ‘We’ll smile tonight’ – Pablo Iglesias, head of Spain’s left-wing Podemos party, said: “We will smile tonight.”

He told a crowd of 8,000 supporters at a rally in eastern Spain: “Hope is arriving, fear is going away. Syriza, Podemos, we will conquer.”

17:29 GMT – Default fears – Elli, 20, a student casting her ballot in the Athens suburb of Nea Smyrni, said she would vote for Syriza but admitted she had concerns.

“I was undecided until this morning because I’m afraid that the outcome of a Syriza win could be a default,” she told AFP.

But Vaia Katsarou, a 49-year-old lawyer, said Syriza in government would help change Europe.

“Europe awaits Syriza’s victory to end austerity policies… it’s a risk, but destitute people have nothing to lose,” she said after casting her ballot at the main port of Piraeus.

17:27 GMT – Historic victory – Syriza party spokesman Panos Skourletis says after the exit polls: “This appears to be a historic victory, a message that does not only concern the Greek people.”

“It resounds all over Europe and brings relief,” he added on Mega television channel.

17:20 GMT – Confronting the ‘troika’ – The first official results are expected at 1930 GMT.

Tsipras says he will confront the “troika” — the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank — to secure a reduction in Greece’s debts that total 318 billion euros.

He says Greece’s lenders have put the country in an “unsustainable” position, forced to make spiralling debt repayments while the economy shrinks.

The IMF has warned Greece that failure to repay its debts will carry “consequences”.

17:19 GMT – ‘Cooperation’ – “Our common future in Europe is not the future of austerity, it is the future of democracy, solidarity and cooperation,” Alexis Tsipras told reporters earlier after casting his vote in Athens.

He said under a Syriza government, “Greek people will regain social cohesion and dignity”.

17:18 GMT – PROJECTED SYRIZA VICTORY A ‘RELIEF’ FOR EUROPE, SAYS PARTY SPOKESMAN

17:04 GMT – Syriza ‘35.5% to 39.5%’ – Radical left party Syriza has won a historic victory in Greece’s general election that could have an impact on the course of austerity in Europe, exit polls show.

Syriza took between 35.5 percent and 39.5 percent of the vote according to the polls, placing its 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras on a path to become Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years.

Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn and pro-European party To Potami are in a neck-and-neck race for third place with between 6.4 percent and 8.0 percent apiece.

– Youngest PM for 150 years –

17:02 GMT – Explosion of joy – There is an explosion of joy at the Syriza stage in central Athens as first estimates give the party a 39 percent share of the vote, reports Marina Rafenberg.

17:00 GMT – ANTI-AUSTERITY PARTY WINS GREEK ELECTION: EXIT POLLS

16:49 GMT – Crowd gathering – Already about 100 people have gathered on Klafthmonos in central Athens where Syriza have put up a stage. The supporters wave flags, with broad smiles on their lips, Will Vassilopoulos reports from the scene.

The talk is that Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras could initially come to the stage then walk to the University of Athens along the street separating them.

16:43 GMT – No alternative – “There is no serious alternative solution, says 48-year-old doctor Christina Stamatopoulou. “We must add water to the wine and talk with our creditors. There is no serious alternative solution.”

Yorgos, 40, tips Golden Dawn to be the third party. “Golden Dawn is the party of patriots to fight against the thieves, the people who have led the country to this point. We need patriots, honest people to fight against foreign interests.

“The arrest of party leaders (held in prison for nearly a year) is a plot against this party of justice,” he said.

16:29 GMT – Glimpsing Alexis – Olga, 68, has come to Syriza headquarters to try and get a glimpse of Alexis Tsipras. “Personally, I don’t have much hope. I am old. But for the young generations this victory by Syriza is significant,” she says.

16:27 GMT – 3% threshold – A minimum of 3.0 percent is required for parliamentary representation. The higher the combined vote of parties left out, the less the winning party needs for an outright majority. For example, if the parties excluded from parliament add up to 12 percent of the vote, the top party will need 35.6 percent for an outright majority.

The winner of the vote has three days in which to form a government, after which the task passes to the leader of the next biggest party. If all the parties prove unequal to the task, new elections will be held in early March.

16:25 GMT – Election facts – Around 9.8 million Greek voters are eligible to cast ballots to elect 300 lawmakers in the unicameral parliament.

Of these, 238 lawmakers are directly elected, 12 are honorific seats proportionately assigned to parliamentary parties, and the remaining 50 seats are given to the top party as a bonus to ensure that a majority government is formed.

The top party needs 151 seats for an absolute majority. But under Greek election rules, the vote percentage it needs to secure these 151 seats is directly influenced by the combined percentage of smaller parties that fail to make it into parliament.

16:17 GMT – Syriza ahead – Syriza — which wants to rewrite Greece’s 240-billion-euro ($269 billion) bailout deal — leads the conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras by around four points, according to the latest polls.

Syriza’s 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras said Europe must find an alternative to austerity as he voted in a media scrum in Athens.

“Our common future in Europe is not the future of austerity, it is the future of democracy, solidarity and cooperation,” Tsipras said.

He said Greek people would regain “dignity” under a Syriza government.

16:11 GMT – WELCOME to AFP’s Live Report on the Greek general election, with the radical Syriza party predicted to win the largest share of votes as hard-pressed citizens back the party’s anti-austerity policies.

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