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'Greece saves Europe:' How press reacted to the vote

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
updated 3:52 AM EDT, Mon June 18, 2012
New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras waves to supporters after a press conference in Athens, on June 17, 2012.
New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras waves to supporters after a press conference in Athens, on June 17, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Relief and cautious optimism expressed in European press after Greek vote
  • Germany's victory over Denmark competed with Greek election for top news spot
  • Economic editor of UK's Guardian newspaper said vote "changes little"
  • Athens News said voters experienced "unprecedented pressure" from German press, officials

(CNN) -- The election in Greece of a pro-bailout party induced a huge sigh of relief well beyond Athens and plenty of press reaction that veered between cautious optimism and weary angst.

Opinion pieces published before the vote made no mistake about the gravity of the weekend election. "Europe's Future Hangs in the Balance," read the main headline in the English section of Germany's Der Spiegel Online.

However, the German team's domination of Denmark to reach the quarter finals of Euro 2012 stole the top spot on its national homepage early Monday, "Third game, third victory," the headline cried.

With an election of its own on the weekend, France's Le Monde devoted its Monday morning homepage to a breakdown of a parliamentary vote tipped to solidify the majority of President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party.

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However, the Greek vote led the international sections of both German and French sites, and dominated headlines in the United Kingdom. Never known to underplay a headline, Britain's The Sun newspaper told it straight: "Greece votes to keep the euro (just)... and save rest of Europe."

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The Guardian pitched the win for the New Democracy party as a victory for the euro -- "Voters give single currency a chance" -- while at the same time the paper's economics editor argued that what was really needed was international action.

'Vote for Europe' welcomed in Germany

"The situation in the eurozone, and around the globe, was catastrophic before Sunday's second Greek election. The result changes little," Larry Elliott wrote.

Parties react to Greek election outcome

However, he added that anyone expecting G-20 members to come up with any effective coordinated response to the crisis "obviously hasn't been paying attention."

"Leaderless and at odds over what needs to be done, it has taken the G20 less than four years to become as redundant as the G8 it was supposed to replace," he said. G-20 leaders are meeting in Mexico Monday to debate possible solutions to the global economic turmoil.

The homepage on Portugal's Diário de Notícias was dominated by Portugal's defeat of the Netherlands at Euro 2012, pushing the Greek vote further down the page.

With its team relegated from the competition last week, the Irish Times focused on Greece's economic woes with an analysis piece pointing out that for Antonis Samaras, the leader of the New Democracy Party, the real challenge had just begun.

"It now falls to him to form a pro-bailout government with his former arch-foes in the Pasok socialist movement. Assuming this can be done in the coming days, any power-sharing deal between Samaras and Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos is bound to come under sustained political pressure as they execute onerous austerity and reform measures in the face of grinding recession," it said.

Britain's Mail Online injected a sense of urgency into power-sharing talks, "Greek election stalemate creates race against time to form coalition government... as pro-bailout parties struggle to reach agreement that could save the euro, " the headline screamed.

The Huffington Post adopted a more relaxed tone, announcing that the election results had calmed fears of a Greek exit from the eurozone.

Samaras also looked calm as he beamed from the front page of Italian daily Corriere Della Sera, which highlighted the relief which met the Greek election outcome. However the website's most-read story at the time of writing was about a rare image of a bee sting in motion. If only Greece's financial woes could be compared to the same.

Greek vote lifts Asian markets

The Greek result also led papers in Spain. Under the headline "Greece is not an exact science," El Pais, the country's leading daily, questioned why so much European relief has been expressed when the results were roughly the same as the first election in May. The threat of a Greek exit from the eurozone persisted, the article said.

With the headline "Samaras seeks 'national salvation' coalition," the main story on the English-language Athens News said the race was now on to form coalition to secure Greece's place in the eurozone.

The article made mention of the "unprecedented pressure tactics by the German and European political establishment in the run up to the elections."

"German officials repeatedly declared that careful implementation of the bailout deal is the necessary condition for continued loans," it said. To prove the point, the website reproduced an open letter by German newspaper Bild which reminded Greek voters who was bankrolling their ATMs.

"Your ATMs continue to give you euros, only because we put them there, the Germans and the other nations that have the euro," the Bild letter read.

It went on: "Let's be clear on this: If the elections are won by parties that want to put an end to austerity and reform, breaching every agreement, we will stop paying."

Before the vote, Athens News issued its own appeal, urging to voters to give the far-right, anti-immigration party Golden Dawn "the boot."

"Greek society has taken a precarious turn, but it is still in the hands of the people to reverse this dangerous flirt with extremes and to make sure that groups like Golden Dawn - along with their deranged belief system - never set foot in parliament again," the editorial said.

The paper's appeal appears to have gone unheeded. According to Interior Ministry figures, Golden Dawn won 18 seats -- or 7% of the vote -- a similar result to the first election in May.

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