Greece's parliament has been formally dissolved ahead of a general election that could end an era of austerity that has led to political and social upheaval.
Parliament dissolved Wednesday after rejecting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's choice for a new president, and announced that elections would be held on January 25.
The election will pit Samaras's conservative New Democracy party against the left-wing Syriza party, which has vowed to end years of deep budget cuts imposed by the European Union, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund in exchange for massive bailouts.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras says the party wants to renegotiate two bailouts worth about $292 billion from the so-called "troika" of lenders, and to persuade creditors to write off some of the country’s crippling debt. But Mr. Samaras has warned that Greece could be forced out of the eurozone if Syriza comes to power.
The prospect of a Syriza-led government has made international creditors nervous, and affected financial markets.
A recent voter opinion poll shows Syriza with a slight lead over New Democracy.
IMF officials say it will not release another $8 billion in bailout money for Athens until a new government is in place.