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Athens News Agency: News in English, 04-03-07
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papandreou concedes defeat in general elections07/03/2004 22:14:11
New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis received a phone call from rival PASOKs George Papandreou just after 9 p.m. on Sunday, with the latter conceding defeat two hours after the polls closed in the country.
Papandreou reportedly wished Karamanlis ?strength? in his new post as Greeces prime minister, while the latter asked the former foreign minister for cooperation within the framework of new ethics that should distinguish the coming political period ?.
?I am looking forward to your cooperation,? Karamanlis told Papandreou.
In comments to the press afterwards, Papandreou, the first-born son of late three-time prime minister and PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou cited his partys long tenure in power -- 19 out of the last 23 years.
He emphasized that PASOK will vigorously back efforts for a resolution of the long-standing Cyprus problem, ?an issue of supreme importance that has entered a crucial phase ... for a viable and just solution?.
Moreover, he stressed that his party, which passes into the sphere of the main opposition, backs efforts for the Olympic Games, only months before the Games return to Greece in August.
Papandreou promised that his party will now exercise a ?policy of quality?, shortly before saying that ?citizens sent their message?.
In a telling statement, the former foreign minister cited a ?little time to persuade citizens?, a reference to his assumption of the ruling party on February 8, a month after Prime Minister Costas Simitis said he would step down as party leader.
?This election is a new beginning for me,? he told reporters at a news conference hall next to the Greek Parliament.
 New Democracy set to win Greek elections07/03/2004 20:23:45
The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party was by all accounts the winner of general elections in Greece on Sunday, according to initial exit polls.
ND leader Costas Karamanlis, the namesake and nephew of Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis, won the elections on his second try after assuming the partys reins in 1997. Conversely, newly elected PASOK leader George Papandreou, the former high-profile foreign minister, failed to follow in the footsteps of his father, three-time premier Andreas Papandreou.
The more-or-less regularly scheduled elections come only months before the Olympic Games return to the land where they were born during antiquity and to the city that hosted the first Games of the modern era (1896).
In ushering in a new generation of political leadership, Karamanlis, 48, and Papandreou, 52, lead the parties founded by the formers uncle and the latters father. Costas Karamanlis will also be the first prime minister born after the divisive Greek civil war (1946-49).
Papandreous run for the premiership came almost two months after two-time Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced he would step down after the elections, in the process stepping down as the ruling partys president eight years after he succeeded Andreas Papandreou.
 Elections: Exit polls07/03/2004 19:33:44
Below are the predictions of the result of Sunday's general elections in Greece, based on exit polls conducted on behalf of the nationwide television stations, announced shortly after the 7:00 closing of the polling stations (in percentages):
PASOK/ ND/ KKE/ SYN/ DHKKI/ LAOS
(%)/ (%)/ (%)/ (%)/ (%)/ (%)
NET 40.2/ 45.5/ 5.9/ 3.9/ 1.6/ 2.1
ALPHA 39-41.5/ 45-47/ 5.2-6.2/ 2.7-3.5/ 1.3-2.2/ 1.8-2.9
ALTER 38.5-41/ 44.5-47/ 5-6/ 2.5-3.5/ 1.2-2/ 1.8-2.8
ANTENNA 38.8-41.2/ 45.6-48/ 5-6/ 2.8-3.6/ 1.3-2.1/ 1.6-2.4
MEGA 40-42/ 45.5-47.5/ 5-6/ 2.7-3.2/ 1-1.5/ 2-2.5
STAR 40.5-42.5/ 44.5-46.5 5-6/ 2.8-3.2/ 1-1.5/ 2-2.5
The exit poll on behalf of state NET television was conducted by Kappa Research; for Alpha station by MRB; for Alter station by ALCO, for Antenna station by Metron Analysis; for Mega station by OPINION; and for Star station by American Research.
 General elections running smoothly throughout the country - Party leaders vote07/03/2004 16:09:26
Greece's approximately 9.8 million registered voters took to the polls Sunday to elect a new government and 300-member unicameral parliament for the next four-year term, with voting stations scheduled to close at 7:00 p.m.
According to reports from all over the country, the voting process was running smoothly, in what appeared to be a large turnout of the electorate.
President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos, voting in his home city of Patras, expressed belief that all would go well regardless of the result of the elections.
Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, voting in the historic Plaka district of Athens, told waiting reporters that he had exercised his electoral right as a responsible citizen, noting that although the climate had become polarised in the final days of the elections campaigning, it was now time for everyone, united, to solve the problems faced by the Greek people.
Outgoing prime minister Costas Simitis, casting his ballot in the port city of Piraeus, said that elections were running smoothly, adding that the citizens were deciding on the future, and the handlings regarding the economy, the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations, and the upcoming Olympic Games that Athens would be hosting in August.
''Greece needs progress, with security, growth, experience and knowledge,'' Simitis said.
Ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement's (PASOK) new leader George Papandreou voted in Larissa, saying that he had chosen to cast his ballot in ''the heart of the farming world'' and stressing that ''the ultimate right and duty of every citizen is his/her vote'', which was ''a fundamental element of participational democracy''.
Papandreou said he was ''very optimistic'' about the outcome of the elections.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, voting in the northern Greek capital of Thessaloniki, expressed confidence in the voters' judgement.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, voting in Nikaia, near Piraeus, noted that ''we have battles to fight as of Monday'', and that was why ''we need a strong KKE and strong, uniform front of the working people in the city's and the countryside, of the radical forces, who are not satisfied with the plutocracy, Brussels and NATO''.
Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, who heads the Coalition of the Radical Left electoral alliance, said after casting his ballot in the Exarchia residential district in central Athens that a vote for the coalition was ''resistence to the neo-liberal, conservative and two-party policies''.
Voting in the coastal city of Faliro, near Athens, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis said that the country's political scene would change on Sunday night, adding that his party would be the "big surprise" in these elections, and expressing hope that "a new era will open up for Greece".
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas, voting in the eastern Athens suburb of Argyroupolis, said that his party has "won our dignity and conscience", while "the rest will be decided by the people".
Political Spring (Pol.An.) leader Antonis Samaras, whose party is not vying in the elections but has put his support behind ND, said after voting in Pylos, Messinia prefecture, that "today we are voting for a better tomorrow, and sending a message of political change for a brighter, more optimistic Greece for all the Greeks".
Meanwhile, caretaker interior minister Nikos Alivizatos said that the flow of election results would be continuous from the moment the polling stations closed, as soon as the collective results from "even a few electoral stations" were finalised.
From the ministry, Delta Informatics would be continually producing collective results which, according to a Delta Informatics official, should begin to be representative of the general situation around 11:30 p.m. if the difference between the two major political parties -- PASOK and ND -- was at least one percentage point.
 Weather Forecast: Rain on Monday07/03/2004 16:03:33
Rain was forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with storms in the north and west, and temperatures ranging from 1 to 14 C.
Athens will be overcast, turning to light drizzle in the early afternoon and the possibility of storms later in the day, while temperatures will range from 4 to 12 C. The same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures of 1-8 C.
 Foreign Exchange Rates: Monday07/03/2004 15:59:42
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.229
Pound sterling 0.675
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.273
Japanese yen 136.5
Swiss franc 1.590
Norwegian kroner 8.734
Cyprus pound 0.590
Canadian dollar 1.640
Australian dollar 1.638
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