Polls open in cliffhanger Greek election

AFP , Sunday 20 Sep 2015

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras (Photo: Reuters)

Polls opened nationwide in Greece's general election on Sunday, with the leftist Syriza party seeking to return to power in a neck-and-neck race against conservative New Democracy and a gauntlet of tough economic reforms looming.

Over 9.8 million Greeks were registered to vote in an election that will select a new government to implement a three-year bailout adopted by the country's parliament last month. The divisive decision led to the toppling of the government of radical prime minister Alexis Tsipras.

The 41-year-old former premier headed into the contest with a slim lead in the polls over his 61-year-old conservative rival Vangelis Meimarakis, head of the New Democracy party.

But with around a tenth of the electorate estimated to be undecided, and the gap between the two parties under the 3.0-percent margin of statistical error, pollsters say the race is too close to call.

Ballots close at 1600 GMT, at which point exit polls will be available.

The interior ministry is expected to make an announcement on the first official results after 1800 GMT.

The vote is the third this year for Greeks, who also cast ballots in an anti-austerity referendum in July, and the fifth in six years as Tsipras seeks a fresh mandate to push through the tough reforms he agreed in July in return for a new 86-billion-euro ($97-billion) international rescue.

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