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Socialists Concede Greek Election to Conservatives - 2004-03-07

Greek Socialist Party leader George Papandreou has conceded defeat to the opposition conservatives in Sunday's parliamentary election.

Mr. Papandreou congratulated the New Democracy party and promised his cooperation as the country gets ready to host the Summer Olympics.

The Socialist leader conceded the election after several television exit polls put the conservatives firmly ahead of the socialists, who have led the country for 10 years.

Sunday's results will give the New Democracy Party a majority of the seats in the Greek Parliament. Party leader Costas Karamanlis will become prime minister. He is the nephew of former prime minister Constantine Karamanlis, who headed the Greek government from 1955 until 1963.

The Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement, or PASOK, has been in power 19 of the last 23 years. It was vying for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term.

One of Greece's top priorities is preparation for the Athens Summer Olympic Games in August. Many venues for the Games, including the main Olympic stadium, are still under construction.

Other pressing issues include efforts to reunify Cyprus, and public concern over a jump in prices since Greece adopted the euro.