Voters in France and Greece delivered a harsh judgment on their ruling parties in elections Sunday, ousting President Nicolas Sarkozy from power in France and severely punishing the two leading parties in Greece.
Final French results showed Socialist Francois Hollande beating Sarkozy with 52 percent of the vote, returning the Socialists to power in France for the first time in 17 years.
In Greece, where more than two dozen parties contested elections, the Socialist PASOK and its coalition partner New Democracy saw a dramatic cut in public support, and there was a chance that the breakaway Radical Left coalition, known as Syriza, Would finish first, official exit polls showed.
PASOK saw its support drop by as much as two thirds to between 14 and 17 per cent from the 44 per cent it had won in 2009 while the conservative New Democracy party could fall to between 17 and 20 per cent, down by nearly half from its 33.5 per cent in 2009.
The big gainer was Syriza, which garnered between 15.5 and 18.5 per cent of the vote, up from 4.6 per cent in 2009, and the ultra-rightist Golden Dawn party, which others have labeled as neo-Nazi, which will enter the parliament with between 6 and 8 per cent of the vote, the official exit polls showed.