Greek voters are unlikely to pick a clear winner in a snap election that is expected to send a record number of parties to parliament next month and test the international bailout keeping the country afloat. Political analysts say the outcome of the May 6 election is hard to predict. The conservative New Democracy party is seen ahead but not by enough to take sole charge of the indebted euro zone member. This could lead to days or weeks of negotiations while it forges a coalition with the Socialist PASOK party to impose austerity and reforms to meet the terms of a second 130 billion euro bailout from Europe and the International Monetary Fund. “It’s a great puzzle,” said Theodore Couloumbis of the ELIAMEP think tank. “I hope the pro-bailout parties will be able to form a government. This is the most likely scenario.”
The two main parties have backed the coalition government of technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, formed in November, when ex-premier George Papandreou stepped down after an internal party revolt over his handling of the crisis. Europe’s debt troubles have had major political implications throughout the region. Ten euro zone governments have been swept from office since the start of 2009, many paying the price for drastic spending cuts aimed at improving public finances. The crisis has also led to a rise in support for populist parties, with voters angry at unemployment, austerity or the cost of bailing out other debtors casting protest votes to make it harder for traditional political forces to govern.