- Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted defeat Sunday in a general election
- Conservative New Democracy party won after over four years in opposition
- Leftist Tsipras called New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to congratulate him
- Tsipras said his administration is delivering a country with positive rates of growth, restored credibility
ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted defeat Sunday in a general election won handily by the conservative New Democracy party after over four years in opposition, his office said.
The result cuts short Tsipras's bid to lead Greece on into the post-bailout era after presiding over its fraught rescue by international creditors at the height of the European debt crisis.
Leftist Tsipras called New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to congratulate him, a source in the prime minister's office told AFP.
New Democracy won 39.7% of the vote, with more than half of the ballots counted, according to the interior ministry, compared with 31.5% for the Syriza party of outgoing premier Tsipras.
The Greek prime minister said he respect the popular will. In a statement, Tsipras said his administration is delivering a country with positive rates of growth, restored credibility. He also expressed hopes that the new government will respect workers' rights.
Investors expect the 51-year-old Mitsotakis to prove his business-friendly reputation is deserved.
The Harvard-educated former management consultant will need to make good on pledges to address issues including government finances, soured loans and crippling bureaucracy, while working within the tight fiscal constraints creditors have set for the country.
Although he has inherited an economy on the mend and a stock market that's soaring, they are rebounding from shrunken bases.
Mitsotakis must ensure that Greece can attract the investment it desperately needs and create jobs as the country digs itself out of the crisis that took a toll on living standards.
Early results from 40 percent of polling stations showed New Democracy scoring a crushing victory by nearly 40 percent to over 31 percent for Tsipras's leftist Syriza party.
"The result has been determined... but we'll be back," outgoing finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos told state TV ERT.
If the results are confirmed, the 51-year-old Harvard graduate and former McKinsey consultant Mitsotakis will have a majority of 158 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament. Tsipras's party will have 86 seats.
The final number will depend on how smaller parties fare. They need at least 3.0 percent of the vote to enter parliament.
The contents of at least one ballot box will likely be unaccounted for, after it was stolen by suspected anarchists in Athens, police said.