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Greeks Vote for New Leadership


Syriza left-wing party leader and former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, centre, laughs as he meets with young people at a coffee shop, in central Athens, Sept. 19, 2015, ahead of Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 elections.

Greek voters exhausted by years of economic crisis, European-imposed austerity and political turmoil are heading back to the polls Sunday to vote for a new government.

The election pits the leftist Syriza party led by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras against the conservative New Democracy party of Vangelis Meimarakis.

The election – the third national election in Greece this year – was triggered when Tsipras resigned last month, barely seven months after he and Syriza was elected on a pledge of beating back the harsh austerity measures imposed by European creditors in exchange for billions of dollars of bailout loans.

Despite his pledge, and a July referendum in which Greek voters rejected a choice to accept the harsh terms set forth by the European creditors, Tsipras accepted the terms of a third economic bailout package worth $98 billion last month.

Meimarakis has accused Tsipras of incompetence in brokering the deal.

Opinion polls

Voter opinion polls indicate Syriza holds a very slim lead over New Democracy heading into Sunday’s election.

Regardless of who wins, neither party is expected to win enough votes to gain a clear majority in the 300-seat parliament, even with a 50-seat bonus.

The winner will have to form a coalition with two smaller parties, To Potami and the socialist PASOK.

The new government will have to quickly enact the reforms required under the latest bailout package, including a bank recapitalization plan.

Polls are scheduled to close at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 UTC) with early projections expected within hours of closing.