Greeks vote on whether to give leftists another chance

By REUTERS
September 20, 2015 00:46
1 minute read.

 
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Alexis Tsipras, the firebrand Greek leftist who lost his bitter fight with Europe's establishment to end its harsh economic austerity against his country, seeks re-election on Sunday a month after he resigned as prime minister.

His Syriza party is in a tight election race with the conservative New Democracy party of Vangelis Meimarakis, who accuses Tsipras of incompetence in dealing with international creditors who have been bailing out the debt-strapped country.

Opinion polls suggest Tsipras may have the edge, but so narrow a one that a win for Meimarakis would not be surprising.

Neither party, however, is expected to get the roughly 38 percent of the vote generally seen as needed for a clear majority in the 300-seat parliament.

That means whoever gets the most votes - and a 50-seat bonus that goes with it - will need to form a coalition, probably with one or both of the small centrist To Potami and socialist PASOK parties.

The election is being watched closely outside Greece because the winner will need to oversee deep economic reforms required for an 86-billion-euro ($98-billion) bailout Tsipras was forced to broker in August with Athens' euro zone partners.

The new government will also have to arrange a recapitalization of the country's banks, and the unwinding of capital controls imposed in June to prevent an implosion of the financial system.

Both Syriza and New Democracy have pledged to do that - but there are differences on the margins over such issues as labor reform.

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