Polls open for cliffhanger Greece election

Latest surveys in Greece indicate close vote with millions of the country's voters undecided.

    Greek polls have opened for what is expected to be a cliffhanger election with former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras taking a slight lead in the race against the conservatives for the helm of a government facing tough economic reforms.

    Opinion polls in Greece indicate millions of the country's voters are undecided before Sunday's polls.

    The last voter surveys forecast victory for Tsipras' left-wing Syriza party over conservative New Democracy party chief Vangelis Meimarakis by margins ranging from 0.7 to 3 percentage points, the AFP news agency reported.

    Counting the Cost: 'Austerity has practically destroyed Greece'

    OPINION: The unbearable lightness of Greek democracy

    With nine parties hoping to enter parliament, whoever wins is unlikely to secure an outright majority and may need to form a coalition.

    Bruising year

    It has been a bruising year for Tsipras, who was elected on an anti-austerity platform in January but whose popularity plummeted after he agreed to a bailout deal worth up to $96bn with Greece's eurozone creditors.

    Tsipras agreed to the bailout after 61 percent of Greek voters in a July referendum overwhelmingly voted against an earlier offer that insisted on austerity measures.

    READ MORE: An election without aspirations in Greece

    The bailout Tsipras agreed to, which kept Greece in the eurozone, was widely seen as more severe than the original offer and included new taxes and spending cuts.

    Tsipras resigned in August after the bailout split his ruling party, triggering Sunday's election.

    While Tsipras' supporters say he went down fighting, Meimarakis has described his seven months in government as "an experiment that cost the country dearly".

    In January Syriza won the general election with 36.34 percent of the vote, followed by the New Democracy bloc at 27.81 percent.

    The ballot boxes for Greece's 10 million voters opened at 7am local time (4GMT).

     - With reporting from Barnaby Phillips in Athens

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.