Greek voters cast their ballots on Sunday in the country’s first national election of the post-bailout era, with leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s SYRIZA party expected to be ousted by the conservative opposition.
A trio of opinion polls on Friday predicted a clear victory for New Democracy and its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The vote will be Greece’s third poll in as many months, and the country’s first mid-summer general election since 1928 is unlikely to set participation records.
In May, fewer than 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots for European Parliament polls and the first round of local and regional elections. Participation fell below 42 percent for the second round a week later.
With temperatures forecast to go as high as 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday, all parties dread the impact the heat will have on turnout.
Greeks will be casting their votes in 21,478 polling stations across the country until 7 p.m. (local time). The results of a single exit poll will be announced as polls close. A safe prediction of the final result would be made around 9 p.m. local time.
This will be the first national election and third election in total since the voting age was lowered to 17, and the number of parliamentary constituencies was increased from 56 to 59.
During the day 9,903,864 registered voters will be called to exercise their electoral rights, of whom 519,227 are aged 17 to 21.
Twenty parties are taking part in the elections. Among the newcomers are the MeRA25 anti-austerity party of Tsipras’s former maverick finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, and Greek Solution, a nationalist, pro-Russia party formed by former journalist and TV salesman Kyriakos Velopoulos.
Each of the parties needs to gain at least 3% of the vote to get into the parliament and as many as seven of them could win seats.
The winning party gets a 50-seat bonus and needs 151 seats in the 300-seat parliament to have a majority.
At the May European elections, New Democracy won 33.11% of the vote against 23.78% for SYRIZA.