- By Nick Peake in Athens and Paul Kirby in London
- BBC News
Greece’s conservative New Democracy is poised to win Sunday’s elections, but will fall short of the majority needed for an outright victory, preliminary results suggest.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s party leads with 41% based on 40% of the vote.
Frontrunner Alexis Tsipras’ centre-left Syriza trailed by 20%.
If no party can form a coalition, Greek voters will return to the polls in a second round in early July.
Early polls showing a victory for the center-right were greeted with cheers at the headquarters of the New Democratic Party in Athens.
Another big winner in the election was SYRIZA’s socialist rival Pazok, which first results gave 12.3% of the vote.
That will make the party king in coalition talks in the coming days.
Mr Mitsotakis’ centre-right has ruled Greece for the past four years and can boast that the country’s growth was close to 6% last year.
His pitch to the nation is that he alone can be trusted to steer the Greek economy forward and consolidate recent growth. Most Greeks seem to have responded positively – and more than expected.
However, the election campaign was marred by a train tragedy in February that killed 57 people, many of them students.
Opposition parties have highlighted the disaster as a sign of a skeletally dysfunctional state after years of economic crisis and underinvestment.
Four years ago, 40% of the vote would have been enough to secure a majority in Greece’s 300-seat parliament.
Now it needs more than 45% because the winning party doesn’t get bonus 50 seats in the first round, it is more likely for the second round.
If New Democracy’s tally holds, it could form a coalition government with centre-left rivals Basak. But it is by no means a given.
Pasok leader Nikos Androulakis may find it difficult to serve in government with Mr Mitsotakis because of the wiretap scandal last year.
Mr Androulakis believes the prime minister knew he was one of dozens of people targeted by illegal spyware.
The scandal led to the resignation of Mr Mitsotakis’ son-in-law, who served as the prime minister’s chief of staff and head of Greek intelligence.
Mr Mitsotakis may decide to channel all his energy into a second round of voting. That could give him an absolute majority and four more years with the cabinet he wants.
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