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Greek local elections may determine fate of ruling party

By Mila Sanina, CNN
A man casts his ballot for the local and regional elections in a voting center in Athens on November 7, 2010.
A man casts his ballot for the local and regional elections in a voting center in Athens on November 7, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prime Minister says the election is a high-stakes test for his ruling party
  • He criticizes the leader of the opposition party
  • New Democracy ruled Greece from 2005 to 2009
RELATED TOPICS
  • Greece

(CNN) -- The Greek prime minister may call for early general elections in December if his ruling party loses local elections Sunday, the nation's official news agency said.

In an interview published Saturday, Prime Minister George Papandreou said the election is a high-stakes test for his ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), according to ANA, the official news agency.

The ruling party will compete with the conservative opposition party New Democracy.

On Saturday, the prime minister criticized Antonis Samaras, the leader of the opposition party.

"All they care about is to be able to say on the night of the elections that PASOK was defeated and that, therefore, the effort we are making to extricate the country from the great impasse has been defeated. That the government has lost the legitimacy to continue its policies," Papandreou said.

New Democracy ruled Greece from 2005 to 2009. If it defeats the ruling party in the local elections, it may undermine the economic reforms spearheaded by Papandreou and his government.

The policies aimed at reducing rampant deficit in Greece are carried out under the aegis of the financial bailout package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Greece was allotted about $150 billion to help restore investors' confidence and prevent bankruptcy.

The economic crisis and the recently-unveiled austerity budget are expected to dominate the voters' agenda for the local elections.