ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will hold general elections on Sunday with no clear winner in sight and a re-vote by July if the country’s rivals fail to agree a coalition.
Opinion polls show the ruling conservative New Democracy Party in the lead, but changes to the country’s electoral system mean it is likely to fall short of an absolute majority.
Polls will open at 07:00 local time (4:00 GMT) and will close at 16:00 GMT. Just under 10 million Greeks have the right to vote. Exit polls by six polling agencies will be announced at 19:00 Japan time.
The New Democracy Party, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has 31-38% support, followed by the left-wing Syriza by 4-7 percentage points. Opinion pollsters say a party needs more than 45% support to win outright.
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The cost-of-living crisis has taken center stage in the election campaign, with political parties trying to lure voters with pledges to raise the minimum wage and create jobs. High prices are having a severe impact on Greeks, whose living standards have fallen due to a decade-long debt crisis.
The inconclusive vote will set off days of talks between political parties to forge common ground for communal living in government.
“Today’s outcome is either a referendum on political stability or a preamble to a rudderless government,” said the daily Proto Theme in a front-page editorial.
If no party wins outright victory, Greek President Katerina Sakeralopoulou will give the top three parties power to form a government for three days each.
If all else fails, Sakeraloplou will appoint an interim government and lead the country to new elections in about a month.
(Reporting by Renee Martezuz, Writing by Michelle Cambas, Editing by Clelia Oziel and Simon Cameron Moore)
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