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

Slideshow (6 Images)

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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