Greek prime minister drops threat of early election

Greece’s prime minister has dropped his threat to call a snap general election, after his Socialist party avoided a heavy defeat in crucial regional polls. George Papandreou said Greeks had shown they wanted his government to press ahead with its austerity programme.

With 45% of votes counted, his Pasok party and the opposition New Democracy party are each ahead in six out of 13 regions. The last is too close to call. Mr Papandreou had said he would dissolve parliament if Pasok did badly.

Nearly 10 million people were legally required to vote in Sunday’s first round of regional elections for 13 governors and 325 mayors, but turnout was estimated by officials to have been only 60%. Second round run-off elections will be held on 14 November.

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