Governing parties backing EU-mandated austerity in Greece are on course for a major drubbing as hard-hit voters, venting their fury in elections, defected in droves, according to exit polls.
In a major upset that will not be welcomed by the crisis-plagued country’s eurozone partners, the two forces that had agreed to enact unpopular belt-tightening in return for rescue funds appeared headed for a beating, with none being able to form a government.
After nearly 40 years of dominating the Greek political scene, the centre-right New Democracy and socialist Pasok saw support drop dramatically in favour of parties that had virulently opposed the tough austerity dictated by international creditors.
“That agreement now belongs to the past. It has been delegitimised,” said Panaghiotis Lafazanis, a prominent Syriza MP. “Our strong showing sends a message especially to Europe that Greeks have rejected austerity.”
Socialist Francois Hollande has won a clear victory in France’s presidential election.
Mr Hollande – who got an estimated 52% of votes in Sunday’s run-off – said the French had chosen “change”.
The socialist candidate has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1m euros a year.
He wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.
Mr Hollande has also called for a renegotiation of a hard-won European treaty on budget discipline championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Sarkozy.
Obama, are you listening?