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Greece Choosing New Parliament


The polls are open in Greece where millions of Greeks vote in snap general elections dominated by catastrophic wildfires that killed over 65 people last month.

Sunday's vote pits conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis against socialist leader George Papandreou.

Mr. Karamanlis called the early vote, confident that his economic record would secure him an easy win. But he faces a tough battle, following criticism that his government was slow to respond to the fires that raged for more than a week and burned several villages.

The tumultuous political campaign ended with mass rallies Friday by the two candidates. The prime minister told his supporters in Athens that he needs a clear victory in order to continue with his economic reforms.

Mr. Papandreou said the current government must go because it has not fulfilled its promise to tackle corruption.

Surveys published two weeks ago - when a ban on pre-electoral polls took effect - indicated the government lost some support after the wildfires, despite government pay-outs to victims.

The current government was elected in 2004. Reforms of Prime Minister Karamanlis have spurred economic growth, but unemployment, crime and corruption remain high.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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