Greek voters head to polls for general election
(Update 1: Adds turnout details, changes headline and lede)
Athens, May 21 (EFE).- Greeks were headed to the polls on Sunday for a general election in which prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative ruling party New Democracy (ND) appeared to be the favorite.
Nearly 10 million people are registered to vote in the 21,500 polling stations open until 7pm throughout the country, with the cost of living crisis one of the main issues.
“Today we vote for our future. We vote for higher wages, we vote for more and better jobs,” Mitsotakis said after voting in the Kifisia neighborhood in Athens.
“I am absolutely sure that tomorrow will dawn an even better day for our country,” he added.
Alexis Tsipras, a former prime minister whose main opposition leftist party Syriza is expected to become the second strongest force, cast his ballot in the Kypseli neighborhood.
“Change is today in the hands of our people,” Tsipras stressed, saying these elections are an opportunity to leave behind “a hard, difficult four-year period of inequalities, injustice” and put an end to an “arrogant government.”
According to the polls, only five of the 35 parties contesting the elections have a chance of securing the minimum 3% of the popular vote to enter the 300-seat parliament.
The latest polls showed Mitsotakis’ ND with 32% of the votes, six percentage points ahead of Syriza.
The socialist party Pasok-Kinal came in third with 9%, followed by the Communist Party with 6.5%, the leftist party MeRA25 led by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis with 3.5% and the right-wing Greek Solution with 3.2%.
This is the first election in Greece since its exit from the European Union’s enhanced surveillance framework, imposed after its first bailout in 2012 to tackle the debt crisis.
It is also the first election since two trains collided in February, killing 57 people, many of them young university students.
That incident led to widespread strikes and public anger at the poor state of the country’s railway system and transport infrastructure.
Mitsotakis is presenting himself as the only option to guarantee stability and keep Greece on the path of growth while Tsipras proposes to form a progressive government with Pasok-Kinal, which has yet to show its willingness to form a coalition with him.
Polls indicate that none of the parties will secure the minimum 45 percent of votes needed to get a majority of 151 seats in parliament.
In the event that no government is formed after these elections, a run off will be held in early July.EFE