Greece’s conservative New Democracy has won Sunday’s elections, falling a handful of seats short of outright victory.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s party polled almost 41%, based on more than two-thirds of the vote.
Centre-left rival Alexis Tsipras congratulated him, as his party was set for a poor result with just 20%.
Despite the centre right’s big win, it may opt for a second round of voting rather than seeking a coalition.
An initial exit poll indicating a win for the centre right was greeted with cheers at New Democracy headquarters in Athens. As results emerged, it was clear that pre-election polls had underestimated the big margin between the two main parties.
Another of the big winners of the election was Syriza’s socialist rival Pasok, which was set to win 12% of the vote.
That would make the party a potential kingmaker if the prime minister seeks coalition talks in the coming days.
Mr Mitsotakis’s New Democracy has governed Greece for the past four years, and can boast that the country’s growth last year was close to 6%.
His pitch to the nation was that only he could be trusted to steer the Greek economy forward and consolidate recent growth. Most Greeks appear to have responded positively – and more than expected.
Giorgos Adamopoulos, 47, voted for New Democracy a few hundred metres from the Acropolis in Athens.
Greece deserved a better form of politics, he told the BBC, but he backed Mr Mitsotakis because he was impressed with his record after four years as prime minister.
I think that he has a plan. In all my years of voting, it was the first time that I saw someone where with 80% of what he said, he did it
Four years ago winning 41% of the vote would have been enough to secure a majority in Greece’s 300-seat parliament.
Now it requires more than 45%, because the winning party is no longer entitled to a 50-seat bonus in the first round, making a second round more likely.
Even if New Democracy does look to Pasok for support, socialist leader Nikos Androulakis may find it difficult to work in government with Mr Mitsotakis because of a wiretap scandal last year.
Mr Androulakis believes the prime minister was aware he was one of the dozens of people targeted with illegal spyware.
The scandal led to the resignation of a nephew of Mr Mitsotakis, who was working as the prime minister’s chief of staff, as well as the head of Greek intelligence.
Mr Mitsotakis may decide to channel all his energies into a second round of voting. That might give him an outright majority and another four years with a cabinet of his choice.
However, the election campaign was overshadowed by a rail tragedy in February that killed 57 people, many of them students.
Opposition parties highlighted the disaster as a symptom of a dysfunctional state that has been pared down to the bone after years of economic crisis and under-investment.
First-time voters Chrysanthi and Vaggelis, both 18, voted for Syriza because their generation wanted “something new, something different”.
“I think everyone deserves a second chance. [Tsipras] only had four years,” said Chrysanthi.