May 18, 2014 / 4:34 PM / 3 years ago

Exit polls show strong showing by Greece's Syriza in Athens race

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People wait to vote for local elections outside a classroom used as a polling station in Hellenikon, a southern suburb of Athens May 18, 2014.Yorgos Karahalis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Exit polls showed Greece's radical leftist Syriza party ahead in local elections in Athens and the wider Attica region on Sunday, in a surprisingly strong performance that represents a setback for the country's fragile ruling coalition.

Syriza's candidate for Athens mayor, Gabriel Sakellaridis, led the incumbent, leftist-backed independent George Kaminis, by 1.8 percentage points, according to a Kapa Research poll conducted for Reuters and tovima.gr.

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Syriza's Rena Dourou led by 7.4 points over her nearest rival in the race to become prefect of the wider Attica region.

A joint exit poll by Metron Analysis, Alco, MRB, Marc and Opinion also showed Sakellaridis with 20-24 percent of the vote in the Athens mayor race, ahead of Kaminis who was seen getting 19-23 percent.

The far-right Golden Dawn party's candidate Ilias Kasidiaris was in fourth place with 14-17 percent of the vote, according to the poll, which also showed Syriza's Dourou in the lead for the Attica race.

The Attica region - which includes the symbolically important Athens municipality - has nearly 3 million out of the 10 million eligible voters in Greece.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou, Writing by Deepa Babington

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