Sun, June 17, 2012
World > Europe

Polls open in Greek election

2012-06-17 04:28:30 GMT2012-06-17 12:28:30(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Greek men check lists with polling stations one day before general elections, in central Athens, on Saturday, June 16, 2012. (Photo/AP)

ATHENS, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Greeks went to the polls on Sunday in the second round of parliamentary elections in six weeks seen as a referendum on bailout deals and the debt-laden country's fate in the eurozone.

A total of 9.8 million registered Greek citizens are registered to vote in a poll that will determine whether Greece will continue the austerity plan endorsed by international lenders since 2010 or exit the eurozone, which could cause turmoil in markets worldwide.

Latest surveys showed that the pro-bailout conservative New Democracy (ND) party is running neck-and-neck with the anti-bailout Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA.

The ND led by Antonis Samaras stands for a moderate renegotiation of bailout pacts with European Union and the International Monetary Fund creditors that keep Greece afloat in order to ease the pressure on recession-hit Greeks.

The SYRIZA led by Alexis Tsipra, who surprisingly ranked second in the first round of elections on May 6, has pledged to cancel the memorandum and introduce an alternative program to tackle the debt crisis.

However, local and international analysts warn such a step could trigger strong reactions from lenders, leading to a halt to the flow of further vital multi-billion euro loans to Greece.

If no party wins a majority in the 300-member parliament, as it happened in the first round, a coalition government should be formed, or Greece would head to a third round under the Greek constitution, pollsters say.

Polls close at 19:00 p.m. local time. Exit polls will be be released shortly afterwards, with the first official estimates expected later in the evening and the final results on Monday.

Related news:

Hardship awaits Greek election winner

Greece battles wildfires ahead of Sunday's national polls

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