News ID: 127250
Published: 0654 GMT September 19, 2015

Campaigning over; Greeks prepare to vote

Campaigning over; Greeks prepare to vote

A political calm before the storm enveloped election-weary Greece on Saturday with all campaigning and polling suspended ahead of today's vote, which promised to be tight and possibly indecisive.

The election is being watched closely from outside Greece because the winner will need to oversee deep economic reforms required for an 86-billion-euro (63.09-billion-pound) bailout brokered in August with Athens’ eurozone partners. Reuters reported.

Former prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftist Syriza party appeared to be slightly ahead of conservative rival Vangelis Meimarakis’s New Democracy, if a flurry of late polls on Friday are correct.

But neither party looked set to garner the roughly 38 percent of the vote generally seen as needed to get a majority in the 300-seat parliament as a result of a 50-seat bonus awarded to the party with the most votes.

Tsipras used a final pre-election speech on Friday to try to shore up support from former Syriza voters whom he fears may stay away from the polls, disillusioned by his being forced to backtrack on promises to end the austerity that has accompanied consecutive international bailouts.

“Not one vote should be lost, we should not be beaten by abstention,” he said at a rally that lacked much of the passion seen when he stormed to power in January.

Meimarakis accused Tsipras of “false promises” and called his term of office this year a “disaster” for Greece.

“Our aim is that the European countries no longer have to give us loans because we finally want to end this crisis,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper published on Saturday.

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