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Greeks go to the polls.

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Greeks go to the polls. Empty Greeks go to the polls.

Post by Catherine Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:55 am

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that in the midst of such financial turmoil, meeting in the plush resort of Los Cabos just doesn't sit well?? Hmmmm... Rolling Eyes


Greeks go to the polls in vote that threatens to shake world economy

Yannis Behrakis / REUTERS

A Greek orthodox priest holds his ballot paper as he exits a voting booth at an Athens primary school used as a polling station on Sunday.
By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news services
Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET: ATHENS - As polls opened on Sunday in a Greek vote, the outcome of which could decide whether the heavily indebted country remains in the euro zone, the World Bank warned that the election of an anti-austerity government could spark a global economic crisis.

"Europe may be able to muddle through but the risk is rising. There could be a Lehmans moment if things are not properly handled," the outgoing head of the World Bank Robert Zoellick told Britain's Observer newspaper.


The bankruptcy of U.S. bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008 triggered a global financial slump that indebted western nations are still struggling to recover from.

Policymakers and investors are nervously awaiting the outcome of this weekend's Greek election, which could empower radical leftists threatening to tear up the terms of a bailout deal and send shockwaves through financial markets.

Stocks soar on central bank readiness; Greece eyed

Sunday's election is a re-run of an earlier vote on May 6 which produced no clear winner and forced voters back to the polls for a vote that is seen as a referendum on the future of the single currency.

"Things are getting worse and worse in Greece. There is no future for the next few years there," says Christos Christoglou, a Greek inspection engineer, who moved to Germany to find work.
The last opinion polls published before a two-week pre-election ban showed the radical Syriza party running neck-and-neck with the conservative New Democracy party of Antonis Samaras. But no party is likely to win enough votes to form a government on its own, meaning a coalition will have to be formed to avoid yet another election.

'Most important election in history'
The ongoing uncertainty was a prime concern for Greek psychologist Sofia Arvanici who spoke to NBC News at a polling station in a northern suburb of Athens.

"This is Greece's most important election in history," the 36-year-old said. "We don't know whether we will have a government tomorrow, but we can't have more instability. "

The European Union and International Monetary Fund have insisted that the conditions of the 130 billion bailout accord agreed in March must be accepted fully by a new government or funds will be cut off, driving Greece into bankruptcy.

Follow @msnbc_worldOpinion polls show Greeks, weary after five years of deep recession, overwhelmingly favor remaining in the euro. But there is bitter anger over the repeated rounds of tax hikes, slashed spending and sharp cuts in wages.

"I voted with a heavy heart for a pro-bailout party because I want the country to stay in the euro, with the help of our European partners. I don't think the failed recipes of the left would get us out of this mess," Stratos Economou, 49, who runs a bakery shop in Athens, told Reuters.

Germans on edge as key Greek vote nears

Zoellick and other policy makers insist that the austerity Greece is living with is preferable to the alternative.

The Observer said the Zoellick would tell a G-20 summit that the euro crisis could hit developing nations hard, although clearly the effects would be felt further afield.

"Uncertainty in markets is now starting to increase costs for developing countries," he told the newspaper. "The ripple effects are making everybody's life harder."

Watch World News videos on msnbc.com

The G-20, which brings together finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 major economies and the European Union, will start a meeting in Mexico on Monday. The gathering in the Pacific resort of Los Cabos promised to be overshadowed by the elections in Greece and mounting worries about Spain and Italy.

"If the radical left wins (in Greece) -- which cannot be ruled out -- the consequences for the currency union are unforeseeable," Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister and head of the group of eurozone finance ministers, told the Austrian newspaper Kurier according to the Observer. "I can only warn everyone against leaving the currency union. The internal cohesion of the euro zone would be in danger."

Bartering takes hold in austerity-wracked Greece

Finance officials in the euro zone have discussed limiting the size of withdrawals from ATM machines, imposing border checks and introducing euro zone capital controls as a worst-case scenario.

During Sunday's election, voters will choose a new prime minister, but the election is also considered a proxy for a much bigger question: will Greece still use the Euro or not? CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera reports.
All parties actually say they will keep Greece in the single currency but Alexis Tsipras of the Syriza party believes the agreement can be renegotiated without Greece having to leave, betting that European leaders cannot afford the turmoil that would be unleashed by cutting a member of the euro zone loose.

But euro zone paymaster Germany has warned Greeks on Saturday the bailout would not be renegotiated.

"That's why it's so important that the Greek elections preferably lead to a result in which those that will form a future government say: 'Yes, we will stick to the agreements'," Chancellor Angela Merkel told a party conference of her Christian Democrats

On the right, establishment heir and New Democracy leader Samaras says rejection of the EU/IMF bailout would mean a return to the drachma and even greater economic calamity.

World Bank on Greece: Spain, Italy could be next

Samaras told supporters on Friday they faced a stark choice -- "euro versus drachma."

The fate of the euro as well as the European Union itself was top of mind for finance director Kostas Theoharis, 40, as he cast his vote near Athens.

"The main scenario is whether the euro will exist. This is the question that needs answered rather than whether Greece will be part of the euro," he told NBC News at an Athens polling station with his son Alex, 6. "I fail to see how Greece could leave the euro without breaking up Europe. I understand that this is a financial problem but it needs a political solution."

Polls opened at 7.00 a.m. (0400 GMT) and close at 7 p.m. Exit polls will follow soon after voting ends.

Central banks from Tokyo to London are readying arsenals to defend banks and national currencies against any post-election turmoil.

NBC News' Yuka Tachibana, msnbc.com's F. Brinley Bruton and Reuters contributed to this report.

More world news from msnbc.com and NBC News:

•Greeks go to the polls in vote that could shake Europe
•Cairo dispute triggers gunfight as Egypt votes
•'Powerful conservative force': Saudi Arabia's next in line to throne dies
•Guard in fatal armored-car heist caught at US border
•Toronto stage collapse kills 1 before scheduled Radiohead concert
•China's space mission a test of docking precision
•UN suspends Syria monitoring due to rising violence
•Suu Kyi: Nobel Prize 'made me real once again'
Follow us on Twitter: @msnbc_world


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