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Greek PM Links Elections, Nation's Eurozone Future

  • VOA News

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras attends the third round of voting to elect a new Greek president at the Parliament in Athens, Dec. 29, 2014,

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras attends the third round of voting to elect a new Greek president at the Parliament in Athens, Dec. 29, 2014,

Greece's prime minister is warning that his financially battered country may be forced out of the eurozone monetary union if leftists promising to scrap wide-ranging austerity measures are victorious in snap elections next month.

Antonis Samaras spoke Tuesday, shortly after formally asking the country's outgoing president to dissolve parliament ahead of polls set for January 25.

Greece was forced into early elections after lawmakers failed Monday to endorse the government's candidate for president in a third and final round of voting. Fears of a Greek exit from the 18-nation eurozone already have rattled investors and markets in European capitals.

The opposition Syriza party said it wanted to renegotiate terms of nearly $300 billion in bailouts fronted since 2010 by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Late Monday, the IMF said it was suspending loan installments until a new government was in place.

Syriza leaders said they would stop repaying the debt unless the so-called troika agreed to relax terms of the bailout, including austerity measures that have brought devastating hardships to millions of Greek citizens.

Recent opinion polls have shown Syriza leading Samaras' ruling coalition by 3 to 6 percentage points.

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