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Spotlight on Greek debt woes in key local polls

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Spotlight on Greek debt woes in key local polls

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Greeks are voting in the second round of local elections, that are widely seen as a referendum on the government’s tough austerity programme.

The ruling socialists emerged ahead in a majority of regions after last Sunday’s ballot but only with a wafer-thin lead, in a poll marred by abstentions.

That was enough for Prime Minister George Papandreou to lift his threat of calling an early general election. But debt-stricken Greece and Papandreou are not out of the woods yet.

Today he evoked the possibility of extending repayment of the EU/IMF loan that saved the country from bankruptcy in May.

Many have been hit hard by tough belt-tightening measures, agreed under the bailout. Further austerity cuts risk triggering more street protests.

EU and IMF representatives will visit Athens on Monday to assess its cost-cutting efforts.