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


    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.