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Socialists Dominate Greek Regional Elections


Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou receives an envelope to vote during the municipal and regional elections in Athens, 7 Nov. 2010.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou receives an envelope to vote during the municipal and regional elections in Athens, 7 Nov. 2010.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has backed down from his threat to dissolve parliament and hold early elections after partial results show his ruling Socialists dominating local elections.

Early returns have the Socialists beating the opposition conservatives in seven of 13 regions.

Mr. Papandreou turned Sunday's vote into a referendum on his government's economic austerity measures. He threatened to dissolve parliament if voters supported the opposition.

He said in a televised speech Sunday night that the past year has been difficult, but that economic reform efforts will continue.

Opposition leader Antonis Samaras called the prime minister's threat to break up parliament "blackmail." He said the government failed to get the blank check it was seeking.

Mr. Papandreou slashed spending and cut pensions in order to receive a $145 billion bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Greece's huge debt and budget deficit had the country on the edge of bankruptcy earlier this year and threatened to drive down the value of the euro in the 16 EU nations that use it as their currency.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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