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Live blog: municipal and regional elections 2014

All the latest election news

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The latest news from Greece where citizens have voted in municipal and regional elections, in what is the first major test of the coalition government's popularity since it came to power in 2012. Hit refresh to see the latest updates!!!

A girl waits for her father outside a polling booth in Athens (Photo: AFP) A girl waits for her father outside a polling booth in Athens (Photo: AFP) Welcome to our live blog on today's municipal and regional elections. This live blog is now closed!



01:00 OK, folks. It's way past our bedtime, so we're calling it a day. Tune in again tomorrow for updates from the counts and analysis on what all this means. Thanks for reading!

00:40 The Pasok leader, Evangelos Venizelos, has expressed satisfaction over the results of the polls, saying they reflect the "deep roots" of his party, which government most of the past 40 years, in local government. Venizelos said that narrow party candidates failed, referring to party-endorsed candidates.

"Next Sunday people will select effective and capable candidates," he said, dissociating local polls from national politics.

But he also underlined that the European Parliament election next week must give the "impression of democratic stability". He thus indirectly accepted that these elections will be viewed essentially as a referendum.

Venizelos' comments suggest that if New Democracy and Pasok are trounced then, one might conclude that general elections might be on the cards.

00:30 Syriza's leader Alexis Tsipras has described New Democracy's failure to make the second round of the Athens mayoral race and Attica governor race as unprecedented.

"There is no precedent for a ruling party to be locked out of the second round in the Athens mayoral and Attica prefectures elections,” Alexis Tsipras said, declaring that his party was now a strong player in local government.

Tsipras said the Prime Minister Samaras has accepted that the local results presage a second week of elections that will judge the policies of the memorandum.

"Next Sunday will be the memorandum that never was held," Tsipras declared, still framing the May 25 European Parliament elections as a referendum on government policies. He said the second round will determine if Greece will "regain its dignity".

“We must put forward social unity over the blackmail of stability,” he said of Samaras' "New Democracy or instability" dilemma.

"The message is that Greece belongs to no one but its people," Tsipras said, echoing Pasok founder Andreas Papandreou's famous adage "Greece belongs to the Greeks". Many former Pasok voters have flocked to Syriza.

“Next Sunday can be the first day of a new era,” Tsipras concluded.

00:15 Syriza's showing in Athens and Attica prefecture represented a symbolic and tactical victory, says journalist Nikos Bogiopoulos, a veteran of Communist Party-organ Rizospstis who is now working with other media. But he noted that Syriza's numbers in Attica fell substantially since the 2012 general elections. He claimed that nationwide the KKE tripled its 2012 showing overall.

What do figures say? In June 2012, Syriza took 30.19% in Attica. Now, its candidate is now at 23.6% in the count.

00:00 New Democracy-backed candidate in Athens Aris Spiliotopoulos has conceded defeat, in the first Athens mayoral contest since 1974 in which ND failed to enter the second round of voting in the Athens mayoral race. Spiliotopoulos blamed the renegade candidacy of fellow New Democrat Nilitas Kaklamanis. He said otherwise ND would have entered the second round and would have had a good shot at victory.

In his first public reaction to results around the country, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he won't criticise local voters who rejected ND's choices. In European Parliament elections next week, he said voters must show that Greece has the stability it deserves. He called on voters decide whether Greece will "go ahead with stable steps, or slide backwards".

23:45 In the regions, neonazi Golden Dawn is polling best in Attica, followed by Peloponnese and Central Macedonia. The following percentages are only indicative of the party's performance, as the counts are continuing. 

11.31% Attica
9.04% Peloponnese
8.71% Central Macedonia
8.5% Central Greece
7.94% Western Greece
6.85% Thessaly
6.13% Eastern Macedonia-Thrace
6.03% Southern Aegean
5.03% Ionian Islands
4.91% Western Macedonia
3.92% Epirus
3.5% Crete
(No candidate in the Northern Aegean)

No overall picture on how Golden Dawn is performing at municipal level. In Athens, Ilias Kasidiaris MP is on 16.2%, with almost have of the votes counted. In Thessaloniki, Artemios Mathaiopoulos MP has 7.82% with over half the votes counted. 

23:30 Incumbent Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris called on all residents of his city, whether they voted for him on Sunday or not, to vote for him in the second round of elections on May 25. According to exit polls on Sunday, Boutaris leads the northern city's mayoral race with a large margin of difference over the second candidate. He is endorsed by Pasok and Democratic Left. "The result is satisfactory, but will not allow us to rest. That is why I am requesting the vote of all Thessaloniki residents, both those who voted for me and those who did not, in order to win in the second round and give us the right to take a historical step for the city - that is, to express through this victory the local government unity of the whole city," he said.

With about 33% of ballot boxes counted, Boutaris is on 35.93% and his New Democracy contender Stavros Kalafatis on 26.57%.

23:15 23:00 Here's an overview of the results from the country's 13 regions, with the two leading candidates mentioned in each case:

Attica (25.79% counted)
Rena Dourou (Syriza) 23.57%
Yannis Sgouros (Pasok) 22.2%

Central Greece (23.98% of votes counted)
Kostas Bakoyiannis (ND) 42.55%
Evangelos Apostolou (Syriza) 18.67%

Central Macedonia (27.93% of votes counted)
Apostolos Tzitzikostas (renegade ND) 32.44%
Ioannidis Yiannis (ND) 18.81%

Crete (21.61% of votes counted)
Stavros Arnaoutakis (Ind) 40.95%
Serafim Tsolkas (ND) 25.12%

Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (18.51% of votes counted)
Georgios Pavlidis (ND) 34.68%
Giannakidis Astridis (Ind) 27.78%

Epirus (26.53% of votes counted)
Alexandros Kahrimanis (ND) 48.83%
Olga Gerovasili (Syriza) 25.75%

Ionian Islands (34.26% of votes counted)
Spyrou Spyridon (ND) 21.83%
Theodoros Galiatsatos (Syriza) 21.33%

Northern Aegean (32.01% of votes counted):
Kalogirou Christiana (ND) 30.88%
Athanassios Giakalis (Ind) 27.77%

Peloponnese (25.17% of votes counted)
Petros Tatoulis (ND/Pasok) 43.9%
Odysseas Voudouris (Syriza) 16.09%

Southern Aegean (29.82% of votes counted)
Georgios Hatzimarkos (ND) 34.23%
Yiannis Macheridis (Ind) 33.31%

Thessaly (22.26% of votes counted)
Konstantinos Agorastos (ND) 43.07%
Nikos Tsilimigas (Syriza) 16.42%

Western Greece (20.79% of votes counted)
Apostolos Katsifaras (Ind) 22.91%
Andreas Katsaniotis (ND) 20.25%

Western Macedonia (13.11% of votes counted)
Georgios Dakis (ND) 24.2%
Theodoros Karypidis (Ind) 28.91%

22:30 Syriza's Gabriel Sakellaridis has told supporters in the last half hour that a "decisive first  step" has been made. According to the latest exit poll data, he is battling neck to neck with incumbent Giorgos Kaminis. Referring to Kaminis, Sakellaridis said: "We believe that those who have ignored the massive problems and implemented the disastrous policies of austerity cannot now be shown to be independent candidates." He added that the high percentage taken by Golden's Dawn Ilias Kasidiaris showed "democratic society could not be complacent".

22.20 Former Athens mayor (2007-2010) Nikitas Kaklamanis has blamed Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for New Democracy's poor showing in the capital. "The divisions caused by Mr Samaras brought about today's result. For the first time, a party leader broke his own party to favour another candidate. We'll talk about the political consequences of all this after the May 25 elections."

Kaklamanis sought to be New Democracy's candidate, but the party supported Aris Spiliotopoulos. Samaras personally expelled Kaklamanis from New Democracy after the MP failed to vote for the last major bailout bill, in March. Kaklamanis ran on an independent ticket and is polling in fifth place. 

21.40 Prime Minister New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras has arrived at his party's headquarters on Syngrou Avenue in Athens for a meeting with advisors. He is due to make a public statement following that meeting. 

21:25 A final exit poll for Attica region puts Syriza's Rena Dourou on 23.5% and Pasok's incumbent governor Yannis Sgouros on 22.1%.

21:20 The government and New Democracy's line tonight is that Syriza's performance in Attica does not reflect the rest of the country and that next Sunday is another day. 

"Next Sunday is very important. Each ballot box is different," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said. Speaking on private TV station STAR, Kedikoglou said "the picture in the province, even in a very small percentage, is different from that of Attica. In many cities and regions of the province, we will have good results." 

He added that "Stability should be ensured next Sunday."

It is too early to rush to conclusions about the local government elections, Parliamentary Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis (New Democracy) has said.

"Some people should not rush to celebrate, nor be disappointed," Meimarakis said, in comments In comments carried on the state-run ANA news agency. "We have another Sunday ahead," he added, referring to the second round of local government elections on May 25, which will be held on the same day as European Parliament elections. "New Democracy's strategy is that we tell citizens what the problems are and the solutions we propose … The citizens will decide."

21:15 The editor of Ethnos daily, Thanasis Tsekouras, tells Alpha TV that ND and Pasok trapped themselves by accepting that the election is a referendum on national policy. They could have insisted that the general elections expressed national sovereignty in 2012. He concludes that the May 25 second round of local elections and, even more, the European Parliament results will be a dress rehearsal for general elections.

21:10 Syriza MP Zoi Konstantopoulou has described the results as a "very optimistic first indicator" about an eventual ousting of the government, and that a more "resonant" message will be sent in the second round of municipal and regional elections on May 25, when European Parliament elections will also be held.

Konstantopoulou said the high abstention rate was partly due to "100 modifications" of electoral procedures and changes in the dates the elections would be held. She also charges that municipal officials in Athens prevented 800 prospective voters, many of whom wanted to transfer their voting rights from provinces. from registering.

21:00 Alpha TV has put out a final exit poll for Athens municpality, which has the Syriza candidate and incumbent independent mayor neck and neck:

Gabriel Sakellaridis (Syriza): 20.5-22.5%
Mayor Giorgos Kaminis (Independent): 20.5-22.5%
Aris Spiliotopoulos (New Democracy): 15-16.5%
Ilias Kasidiaris (Golden Dawn): 14.5-16%
Nikitas Kaklamanis (Independent, renegade New Democracy): 7-8%
Nikos Sofianos (Communist Party): 7-8%

20:55 So where's Syriza Gabriel Sakellaridis, who's leading the race for Athens mayor? He's due to make a televised address at 21.30pm.

20:45 And more in from the wires. Reuters, classifying Syriza as "far left", says the exit polls suggest a "surprisingly strong performance that represents a setback for the country's fragile ruling coalition". If the results are confirmed, Reuters continues:

... the vote would raise pressure on Samaras's New Democracy party and his coalition partner PASOK, who hold a wafer-thin two-seat majority in parliament. "It is a punishment vote and reflects the internal divisions within the ruling parties," Constantinos Routzounis, head of Kapa Research, told Reuters. "The following Sunday, we will see whether this vote has a deeper political significance." 

20:40 Here's some international reaction. The Wall Street Journal proclaims in its headline: "Leftist Syriza Candidates Gain on Incumbents in Greek Local Elections: Results Could Determine Reform Agenda." It says the results, although "symbolic", could determine whether the country sticks to what it calls its "reform agenda". 

And though the results won't alter the coalition's narrow two-seat majority in Greece's 300-seat legislature, they will be symbolic for both the government and the radical-left opposition. The outcome could determine whether Greece sticks with its reform agenda or is plunged into renewed political uncertainty.

A drubbing in the polls could reopen fissures within the coalition, already strained by the tough austerity measures it has had to back.

20:27 Pasok/Elia candidate Andreas Loverdos lauds Piraeus candidate Moralis. "I've known him for 25 years and his many virtues that he displayed and was rewarded."

20:25 ND candidate and publisher Yiorgos Kyrtsos tells Syriza spokesman Panos Skourletis that Syriza sank in most all provincial races, including 11% showing in Central Macedonia.

20:20 GPO pollster Takis Theodorikakos on Mega TV says Piraeus mayor front runner Yannis Moralis received the support of voters from various parties. He says Moralis – vice-chairman of Olympiakos FC - took 50% percent of unemployed voters. The pollster's personal political conclusion is that voters voted for practical and realistic solutions to their problems, rather than an ideological motive!

20:14 A government minister has ruled out early elections. Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stresses that the constitutionally mandated term of the government is four years. He says it is natural that a government implementing unpopular policies should suffer losses at mid-term, in its second year.

20:20 Veteran pollster Ilias Nikolakopoulos, speaking on Mega TV, has data on how voters in Athens changed since the 2012 general election. A quick overview shows that Syriza was most successful in retaining its vote, with almost 70% of those who voted Syriza in 2012 voting for the same party today. 

Of those who voted New Democracy in 2012,
50.3% voted for Aris Spiliotopoulos, the official party candidate.
14.5% for incumbent Yiorgos Kaminis
14.5% for ND renegade Nikitas Kaklamanis
10% for Golden Dawn candidate Ilias Kasidiaris

Of those who voted Syriza in 2012,
69.1% vote for Syriza candidate Gabriel Sakellaridis
11% for Yiorgos Kaminis
4.3% for Ilias Kasidiaris of Golden Dawn
4.3% for ND renegade  Nikitas Kaklamanis

Of Pasok voters in 2012,
55% voted for Kaminis
13.9% for Gabriel Sakellaridis
9.5% for Kasidiaris
6.6% for Aris Spiliotopoulos

20:15 More exit polls from the elections for regional governors:

In the Peloponnese, incumbent Petros Tatoulis (Pasok/New Democracy) has a clear lead, with 43.1%, over a former colleague.

In Thessaly, Konstantinos Agorastos (New Democracy) is on 42.5%, far ahead of a Syriza contender

In Crete, Stavros Arnaoutakis (Pasok) is the lead with 40.4%.

20:05 In Piraeus, incumbent Piraeus Mayor Vasilis Michaloliakos (New Democracy) has filed charges against leading competitor Yannis Moralis for electioneering. Moralis had illegally set up campaign literature tables outside of schools serving as polling precincts. Reports say Michaloliakos also had a heated public argument with shipowner and local Olympiakos team owner Vangelis Marinakis, who is Moralis' chief backer. Moralis is president of the Superleague and vice-chairman of Olympiakos.

20:00 Some more exit polls from the regions. In Central Macedonia, Apostolos Tzitzikostas (renegade New Democracy) is placed first, with 35.1%, followed by Giannis Ioannidis (New Democracy) with 16.0% and Syriza's Despina Haralambidou with 15.6%.

19:50 In Thessaloniki, the country's second city, incumbent Yannis Boutaris is leading in an exit poll conducted on a sample of 2,000 voters. New Democracy's man is second and Syriza's third. 

Mayor Yannis Boutaris (independent): 35.7-39.7%
Stavros Kalafatis (New Democracy): 24.1-28.1%
Triandafyllos Mitafidis (Syriza) 14-16%

19:40 Syriza's Nikos Pappas, who heads party leader Alexis Tsipras' political office, says Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in the 2012 elections adopted Golden Dawn's rhetoric with quotes like "Migrants are the tyrants of our cities".

19:35 Interior Minister Yannis Michelakis made a short announcement to say polling has closed and elections were held "absolutely smoothly". He said nationwide returns are being transmitted through mobile phones and results close to the final tally will be available between 10.30-11pm.

19:45 Some reaction from Democratic Left, which was part of the coalition government until June 2013. Spokesman Christos Mahairas says that two ruling parties, New Democracy and Pasok, lost because they were trapped by Syriza's dilemma that the elections will be a referendum on memorandum policy. He says that stability or adventurism was the dilemma with which Samaras countered Syriza's spint but Prime Minister Antonis Samaras too adopted the referendum line in the end of the campaign.

19.30 Here's some initial political reaction from George Gilson:

The first exit polls at 7:04pm gave Syriza an air of triumph with a first place finish in the crucial races for the Attica region and Athens municipality, bastions of New Democracy and Pasok for decades. Moreover, neofascist Golden Dawn candidate Ilias Kasidiaris appears to be knocked out of the second round.

In Athens, Syriza candidate Gabriel Sakellaridis first place finish is a major coup for Syriza. The candidate – whom exit polls put at 20-24%  profited greatly by the split of the conservative vote between party candidate Aris Spiliotopoulsos (15-19%) and renegade Nikitas Kaklamanis (7.5-9.5%).

In Attica, Syriza's Rena Dourou surprised with the margin (27-31%) over incumbent Yannis Sgouros (20-24.5%) of Pasok.

The Piraeus race was swept by candidate Yannis Moralis, who was backed by Olympiakos football team owner Vangelis Marinakis. Incumbent Vasilis Mihalolaikos (New Democracy) will enter the second round with 28-32%, while Syriza took a disappointing third in the port city. Communist KKE candidate Elpida Pantelaki took 4-6%.

19.15 And the exit poll for Attica regional governor:

Rena Dourou (Syriza): 27-31%
Governor Yiannis Sgouros (Pasok): 20.5-24.5
Giorgos Koumoutsakos (New Democracy): 14-16%
Ilias Panagiotaros (Golden Dawn): 9.11%
Thanasis Pafilis Communist Party): 8-10%
Pavlos Haikalis (Independent Greeks): 4-6%

19.12 Here are those exit polls, photographed by Stratos Safioleas. They also include the Attica regional 

19.10 The exit poll for Athens municpality

Gabriel Sakellaridis (Syriza): 20-24%
Mayor Giorgos Kaminis (Independent): 19-23%
Aris Spiliotopoulos (New Democracy): 15-19%
Ilias Kasidiaris (Golden Dawn): 14-17%
Nikitas Kaklamanis (Independent, renegade New Democracy): 7-9.5%
Nikos Sofianos (Communist Party): 6-8%

19.00 One of the most watching contests is Athens municipality. Here are our profiles of the leading five candidates

18.50 Ten minutes to go to the close of polls. Ten minutes to go to the exit polls. 

18.50 According to the interior ministry, 9,871,733 people are entitled to vote, of whom 4,779,471 are men and 5,092,262 are women. That number includes 108,691 first-time voters. As estimated 30,000 candidates, in 1,438 electoral coalitions, are in the running in the local elections, while at regional level, there are 105 electoral coalitions with 10,000 candidates.

18.45 Welcome to our live blog on today's municipal and regional elections. Damian Mac Con UIadh and George Gilson here. The elections are the first of two major tests for the New Democracy-Pasok coalition government, the second being the European Parliament polls on May 25. The results will show how much support remains domestically for the coalition since it came to power after the general election in June 2012.

This the first round of the local elections – voters are being deciding on new municipal and regional governments. A second round will be held on May 25 in cases where no candidate for mayor or regional governor achieves 50% plus one vote of the valid poll.

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