The Associated Press November 14, 2010, 3:31PM ET

Greek Socialists win Athens mayoral race

Greece's governing Socialists have won the mayoral race in Athens for the first time in 24 years, scoring an upset in local elections, despite renewed pressure on the crisis-hit nation to further cut spending.

Giorgos Kaminis was declared the winner in Sunday's runoff after conservative incumbent Nikitas Kaklamanis conceded.

The Socialists also won the race for regional governor in greater Athens and were leading nationwide over conservatives who campaigned against the terms of a euro110 billion ($150 billion) bailout loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund and European Union.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's governing Socialists took an early lead in local election runoffs Sunday, despite renewed pressure on the crisis-hit nation to further cut spending.

With more than 25 percent of the national vote counted, Socialist candidates were poised to win eight races for regional governor, compared with five backed by conservatives who campaigned against the terms of a euro110 billion ($150 billion) bailout loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund and European Union.

The Socialists also narrowly led mayoral races in Athens and Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki, which have both been governed by conservatives since 1987.

"I agree with the view that the public is showing tolerance," Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told private Antenna television. "People understand that there is no magic formula, and that difficult things must be done to save the country and improve it."

The EU on Monday is expected to announce an upward revision of Greek budget deficit figures, including for the year 2009, while officials from the EU and IMF are due in Athens for another inspection of cost-cutting efforts.

In a weekend newspaper interview, Prime Minister George Papandreou said Greece could seek an extension for repaying the rescue loan, and conceded the deficit revision would add pressure on his government to cut costs.

"It's like running a marathon, and finding out during the race that they have added more kilometers to the course," he told the Proto Thema newspaper.

The government had billed the local government poll as a key test of popular support for its austerity program, which has included pay cuts for pensioners and civil servants. But last Sunday Papandreou dropped a threat to call an early general election after the Socialists led in the first round of the local polls to elect mayors and 13 new regional governors.

The November elections are the first following far-reaching changes in Greek local government that reduced the number of municipalities from 1,014 to 325, provided for elected regional governors and regional councils and will extend the terms of mayors and governors from four to five years.


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