Greeks have begun voting in their third national polls this year, called on to choose who they trust to steer the country into its new international bailout.
Former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party, which made pledges to implement austerity measures in return for billions of euros in rescue loans, was marginally ahead of the rival center-right New Democracy in opinion polls leading up to Sunday’s vote.
But the polls indicated the winner would not have enough votes to form a government alone.
Mr Tsipras triggered the election by resigning barely seven months into his four-year term, after facing a rebellion within Syriza over his policy U-turn in accepting the spending cuts and tax hikes stipulated by the bailout.
Mr Tsipras had won January elections on a promise to abolish austerity.
The campaign has been lackluster and somewhat muted – a far cry from the frenetic, high-stakes January campaign, which pitted the anti-bailout Mr Tsipras against centrist parties that argued the deal with other Eurozone countries was the country’s best chance for an eventual return to some form of economic normalcy in a country ravaged by recession and with unemployment at around 25 percent.
Now, the policies for whichever party wins have already been set in the form of the bailout agreement.
The Nazi-inspired extreme-right Golden Dawn party has been consistently polling in third place, but would not be approached by any of the other parties to form a coalition.
A total of nine parties have a chance of reaching the 3 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.