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Voters furious with years of painful budget cuts and higher taxes hammered both Mr. Samaras‘ conservative New Democracy and PASOK with their ballots.

The two parties have dominated politics for the past four decades and had backed Greece’s multibillion-dollar bailouts. Support scattered to several smaller parties - ranging from moderate leftists to an extreme right group blamed for street attacks against immigrants.

Greece is now in its fifth year of recession, and unemployment has spiked to more than 21 percent.