Article published on the 2009-10-05 Latest update 2009-10-05 09:14 TU
Socialist leader George Papandreou waves to his supporters as Pasok closed in on victory in Greece
Pasok leader George Papandreou’s becomes the third generation of his family to hold the office of Prime Minister while outgoing premier Costas Karamanlis stepped down as leader of the conservative New Democracy party.
"We have a mandate to turn a new page," Papandreou told reporters.
"Today we start together the great national effort of placing the country back on a course of revival, development and creation. We don't have a day to waste."
With over 70 per cent of polling stations accounted for, Pasok led by nearly ten points over ruling New Democracy.
The socialists garnered 43.89 percent of the vote and are eyeing a 159-seat majority in parliament. The conservatives were held to 34.35 percent and mustered 94 seats according to incomplete results.
The Pasok victory makes its leader the third Papandreou to govern Greece since World War II after his father Andreas - who founded the party - and his grandfather and namesake George Papandreou, Greece’s first Prime Minister after the country's liberation from German occupation in 1944.
It also marks a tremendous personal turn around in Papandreou’s fortunes. Two years ago, he had to fight off a fierce leadership challenge after Pasok lost their second successive election. At that point the party was in tatters and losing voters to other left-wing parties.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who came to power in March 2004, conceded defeat early in the night and resigned his party chairmanship.
"The only responsible and honest course of action for me is one: I assume responsibility for the result and will launch procedures for the election of a new party leader," he said.
The Communist Party, KKE, occupied its customary third party position with over seven per cent of the vote.
Far right Laos followed with over five per cent, leapfrogging over a left-wing coalition, Syriza, which comes fifth at just over four per cent. The Greens garnered over two per cent of the vote which is unlikely to be enough to give them a seat in parliament.