Greece has awoken to a new era of defiant anti-austerity after voters handed a decisive victory to radical left party Syriza, putting the country on a collision course with the EU and international creditors.

南宁桑拿

In a result that exceeded analysts’ expectations, Syriza and its 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras won 149 seats in the 300-seat Greek parliament, just two short of an absolute majority, with most of the votes counted.

Incumbent Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy party was routed and reduced to around 76 seats. European finance ministers are set to meet on Monday when they will have the first chance to discuss the Syriza victory, which is likely to renew fears Greece could be forced out of the eurozone if it defaults on its debt repayments.

Syriza will become the first anti-austerity party to take power in Europe and Tsipras will be Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years. He told thousands of flag-waving supporters in Athens Sunday: “Greece is leaving behind disastrous austerity.”

Tsipras repeated his vow to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s 240 billion ($A340.38 billion) bailout with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, but struck a more conciliatory tone than during his fiery campaign. “The new Greek government will be ready to cooperate and negotiate for the first time with our peers a just, mutually beneficial and viable solution,” the former Communist youth activist said.

An EU source conceded on Sunday that an improved deal on the bailout would have to be struck with the new force in Greek politics. “We will not escape a re-negotiation,” the source said.

Tsipras will quickly come under pressure at home to keep pledges such as raising the minimum wage and increasing pensions for the poorest.

The euro briefly sank to a new 11-year low against the US dollar in Asian trade and stock markets fell over fears that Greece’s international bailout could be in doubt and lead to its exit from the eurozone – a so-called “Grexit”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen as the driving force in the EU’s austerity drive, said on Friday she wanted Greece to stay in the eurozone “despite the difficulties”.

Syriza says it does not want to give up the euro. Sunday’s parliamentary polls were Greece’s fourth in five years, including back-to-back votes in 2012.

During that time the economy has shrunk by a quarter and unemployment has soared beyond 25 per cent. Samaras had pleaded with voters not to turn away from the painful public sector spending cuts he had supported, saying they were helping Greece emerge from recession.

But in a sombre statement conceding defeat, he said: “I hand over a country that is part of the EU and the euro. For the good of this country, I hope the next government will maintain what has been achieved.” Syriza’s victory could inspire other radical parties opposed to austerity in Europe, such as Spain’s Podemos.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias told a rally of his supporters in the Spanish city of Valencia on Sunday: “Hope is coming, fear is fleeing.

Syriza, Podemos, we will win.” British Prime Minister David Cameron, the first EU leader to react to Syriza’s victory, tweeted that it would “increase economic uncertainty across Europe”. However other European countries struck a warmer tone, saying they were prepared to work with a Syriza government.

French President Francois Hollande congratulated Tsipras on his party’s victory and “expressed his desire… to continue the close cooperation between our two countries,” the presidency said.