IMF does not expect Greek euro zone exit after election

A worker hangs up an pre-election poster in front of the campaign kiosk of the anti-austerity Syriza party bearing a slogan which translates as 'the hope is coming' in central Athens on Jan 14, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
A worker hangs up an pre-election poster in front of the campaign kiosk of the anti-austerity Syriza party bearing a slogan which translates as 'the hope is coming' in central Athens on Jan 14, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday downplayed the possibility that Greece would exit the euro zone after Sunday's general election that could be won by the anti-austerity leftist Syriza party.

"We do not see Grexit as a possible outcome," IMF spokesman Bill Murray said at a regularly scheduled press briefing.

The IMF has been a partner with the European Union in a multi-million euro financial rescue of Greece since 2010.

Syriza, which has a steady lead of about three points in pre-election polls, opposes the austerity programme Greece accepted in exchange for the bailout, and plans to renegotiate the deal, including a possible renegotiation of the country's debt.

The IMF spokesman declined to comment on the potential outcome of the vote, saying only "we fully expect to be engaged with whatever government is elected."

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde on Monday warned of "consequences" if European countries try to renegotiate their debts.

"Collective endeavours are welcome, but at the same time a debt is a debt and it is a contract," Lagarde told the Irish Times during a visit to Dublin.

"Defaulting, restructuring, changing the terms has consequences on the signature and the confidence in the signature," she said.