(Reuters) - Parties committed to Greece's bailout were on course to secure a parliamentary majority on Sunday and the radical leftists who had vied for first place conceded defeat in an election that could keep the debt-laden country in the euro zone.
An official projection released by the interior ministry showed conservative New Democracy taking 29.5 percent, with the radical leftist SYRIZA bloc just behind on 27.1. The PASOK Socialists were set to take 12.3 percent of the vote.
Because of a 50-seat bonus given to the party which comes first, that result would give New Democracy and PASOK 161 seats in the 300-seat parliament, in an alliance committed to a 130 billion euro ($164 billion) EU/IMF bailout keeping the country from bankruptcy.
"I am relieved," smiling New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras told Reuters, leaving his office to joyous chants from supporters. "I am relieved for Greece and Europe. As soon as possible we will form a government."