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ATHENS - The pro-bailout conservative New Democracy party beat the anti-bailout leftist Syriza party in Greece's crucial election on Sunday, but forming a coalition government as desired by the winning party won't come easy.
New Democracy garnered 30.05 points against Syriza's 26.57, followed by the Socialist PASOK's 12.48, according to the Interior Ministry's latest partial result based on the counting of 80 percent of all votes by late Sunday night.
Exit poll also showed that the center-right New Democracy had edged out Syriza, and the final official result is to be announced on Monday morning.
New Democracy's party leader Antonis Samaras called upon all pro-bailout political parties to participate in forming a new government soon after the exit poll projected his victory.
"There's no time to waste and we don't have time for party politics," Samaras told reporters on Sunday night, also pledging to work closely with European partners at the time of deep crisis.
His party needs to join hands with at least one other party to secure more than 150 of the parliament's 300 seats and form a coalition government, but the third-place PASOK's leader Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement that he would not be on board without the participation of Syriza and Democratic Left.
It appears that Venizelos' proposal of four top parties forming a unity government is very unlikely to be accepted by Samaras, while Syriza's Alexis Tsipras also said on Sunday night that he would be the main opposition party, indicating he was not interested in participating in the coalition government.
New Democracy came first in the May election, but failed to form a government after tough negotiations, thus forcing Greek people to go to the polls for the second time in six weeks.
Sunday's repeat election has been closely watched by Europe and the world, as an anti-bailout government could result in a chaotic Greek default and euro exit.
Samaras' winning over Tsipras was an instant relief to the eurozone and the global market, but the prospect of quickly forming a new government is far from promising.
Observers say Samaras will be overwhelmed by tough negotiations especially with PASOK and there's still a possibility that it fails again and then Greece needs a third election.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement on Sunday night that they were hopeful about Greece's quick formation of a new government.
"We look forward to work with the new government and to support the continued efforts of Greece to put its economy on a sustainable path," they said in a statement issued shortly after the initial results indicating New Democracy's victory.
All three parties want Greece to stay in the eurozone. Both New Democracy and PASOK back the international bailout agreement tied with austerity terms for Greece, while Syriza insists on tearing down agreement.
About 80 percent of the Greek people want their country to keep the euro, but many are angered by tough austerity terms requiring salary and pension cuts.
Since the debt crisis first surfaced in Greece in 2009, its government has twice been forced to seek international rescue that came with tough austerity terms often accused of exacerbating Greece's recession.
The Greek drama and the larger debt crisis in the eurozone is set to dominate the upcoming G20 summit in Mexico on the next day of Sunday's election, while the Greece's new leadership, if there's any, may formally negotiate with other European leaders at a Brussels summit in two weeks.