1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Greece election rivals tied in polls

September 19, 2015

A flurry of last-minute pre-election polls in Greece has shown the parties of ex-premier Alexis Tsipras and his rival, Vangelis Meimarakis, neck and neck. Both have committed to implementing the country's bailout.

Vangelis Meimarakis and Alexis Tsipras
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/T. Stavrakis

Greece's leftist Syriza party and conservative New Democracy party were polling almost even on Friday, the last day on which polling and campaigning were allowed ahead of Sunday's general election.

"It's the first time I've felt so powerless to make an estimate. The entire political scene is like a boiling cauldron," Paschos Mandravelis, a columnist for liberal daily Kathimerini, told news agency AFP, referring to the results of polls which saw five surveys by different polling institutes putting both parties at between 25 and 30 percent of the vote.

In most polls, the difference between Syriza and New Democracy was less than 2 percent, well below the margin for statistical error. Other parties got shares of the vote in the single digits. About 10 percent of voters were still undecided.

"The choice you face is to turn back or keep fighting on together. Turning back would mean to return to a course of 40 years that piled debts on Greeks," Tspiras told voters at Athens' Syntagma Square on Friday in his final campaign rally, during which he was joined on stage by Pablo Iglesias, head of the Spanish party Podemos.

The winner of Sunday's election is unlikely to win an outright majority, even though the party which wins the most votes is automatically granted a 50-seat bonus in the country's 300-member parliament. It would therefore likely need the support of smaller partners to form a coalition government. Tsipras has ruled out forming a unity government with Meimarakis.

Bailout no matter what

However, both Meimarakis (pictured above, left) and Tsipras (pictured above, right) have pledged to stick to the far-reaching economic reforms agreed to with Greece's international creditors in July in exchange for a bailout agreement - the country's third - worth a total of 86 billion euros ($97 billion). Tsipras called for the early election last month after resigning as prime minister following a split within Syriza after he reached the agreement, which kept Greece in the eurozone.

Dinghies overcrowded with Afghan and Syrian refugees arrives at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey (seen in the background) September 17, 2015.
Amid Greece's economic woes, thousands of refugees arrive each dayImage: Reuters/Y. Behrakis

New Democracy's Meimarakis, 61, started the campaign as an outsider but has managed to woo some swing voters with his message that Tsipras, who was first elected in January on an anti-bailout platform, could not be trusted.

"With all the promises he broke and the damage he did … why should Mr. Tsipras be given a second chance," Meimarakis said at his final campaign appearance.

"The Syriza experiment ends on Sunday," he said.

No matter which party forms the government, it will also have to raise taxes and implement the wide-reaching bailout reforms which are set to impact heavily on Greeks across all levels of society at a time when the country is also on the front lines of an unprecedented EU migration crisis.

se/tj (AFP, AP, Reuters)