Greek voters go to polls for fifth election in six years | News | DW | 20.09.2015
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Greek voters go to polls for fifth election in six years

A month after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned, voters in Greece are going to the polls to elect a new government. Opinion polls indicate a close run contest for the fifth election in six years.

Former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is seeking a new mandate for reforms demanded by international creditors.

A month after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned, voters in Greece are going to ballot boxes to elect a new government. Opinion polls indicate a close run contest for the fifth election in six years.

Former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is looking for a fresh mandate to push through the reforms agreed under the terms of the new 86 billion euro ($97 billion) international rescue deal in July.

Voters in Greece are at the polls nationally for the third time this year, after an election in January and a referendum on the terms of the bailout deal in July.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. local time (0400 UTC) on Sunday and were due to close exactly 12 hours later. First official estimates are expected from the interior ministry after 1800 UTC.

DW's Milan Gagnon, who was in Athens as voting began, said the mood was flat.

In the last polls published on Friday, Tsipras and his Syriza party were showing between 0.7 and 3.0 percentage points ahead of the conservative New Democrat party headed by Vangelis Meimarakis (above photo left).

"Do we want a Europe of austerity or one of solidarity and democracy?" Tsipras asked at a rally on Friday. He said voters would say "no to this old system of corruption, no to the enshrining of the oligarch establishment."

It is unlikely that any single party will be able to reach the 38 percent of the vote which would allow them a parliamentary majority. Under Greek law an additional 50 seats are automatically added to the winning party's total in the 300-member parliament. Either party would be obliged to develop a coalition in order to form a new government. There are nine parties hoping to enter parliament and the minimum requirement for parliamentary representation is 3 percent of the vote.

Whichever party wins, the main task of the government would be to enforce the measures being demanded of Athens by foreign lenders. More than 100 reforms, many with consequences for the way the public administration is run, have to be legislated in the coming weeks.

Tsipras has defended his decision to accept the terms imposed for the bailout by creditors, saying that had he refused to agree to the three-year bailout, Greece would likely have been ejected from the eurozone.

There are concerns that abstention may be high.

jm/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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