Greece votes in election expected to oust leftist Tsipras - GulfToday

Greece votes in election expected to oust leftist Tsipras

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.

After nearly five years in power, Greece's longest-serving crisis premier -- as well as the youngest in more than a century -- is battling to overcome a 10-point deficit in opinion polls amid widespread dissatisfaction after years of high taxation.

Polling stations opened at 07.00 am local time (0400 GMT) and will close at 07.00 pm with 9,903,864 Greeks having the right to vote, according to the Athens News Agency.

"Today is a big celebration of democracy. Greek women and men hold the fate of this land in their hands.

Exit polls are expected soon after polls close and the first results should come in around 09pm.

With three new opinion polls predicting a clear victory for the conservative New Democracy party, Tsipras called for supporters to mobilise, hoping for a turn around.

"Today we are fighting this battle from the first to the last minute. With optimism and determination. The ballots are empty and all possibilities are open," he tweeted on Sunday.

After voting in Kypseli, near the centre of Athens, with his supporters cheering, the premier called on young people "not to leave this crucial decision for their lives in the hands of others".

Opinion polls have consistently forecast that New Democracy headed by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a former banker and scion of a leading Greek political family, will win an absolute majority in Sunday's legislative elections.

"Today is a big celebration of democracy. Greek women and men hold the fate of this land in their hands," Mitsotakis said after voting in an Athens suburb.

Some members of a small far-left party protested outside the polling station were Mitsotakis voted, but their shouts were drowned out by New Democracy supporters calling their leader the new prime minister.

Agence    France-Presse