Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. About 10 percent of the votes are due to be counted by 9.30 p.m. but a “safe” national projection will not be possible until around 11 p.m., according to the software firm gathering the elections data.
In response to journalists’ questions after he vote in Athens, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said he expected Greece to have a government after today’s elections. It is likely that New Democracy, which is expected to come first, will have to cooperate with PASOK to form a new administration.
“Everyone has to weight up their choices today and decide what the country’s course will be for the next few decades,” he said.
PASOK and New Democracy are expected to lose significant support at these elections as voters drift towards parties that oppose the EU-IMF loan agreement. But they could need just 36 to 38 percent of the vote to be in a position to form a government with more than 151 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament. Cooperation between the two parties is not certain, though.
Voting in Thessaloniki, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos reminded voters that Greece does not have two rounds of elections, one to let off steam and the other to decide the next government, and warned that these elections are the most important since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974.
“The result of this election will set our course,” he said.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras voted in his birthplace in the Peloponnese. He said Greeks were voting for “their children’s future”.
He said voters wanted “stability, security, growth and justice.”
Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga warned voters not to fall into the “trap” of the main two parties, who have promised not to cut pensions and salaries further.
The leader of the Popular Orthodox Rally, Giorgos Karatzaferis, asked voters to vote responsibly. “I would like to believe that Greeks will use whatever logic they have been left with,” he said after voting in Faliro, southern Athens.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is expected to make substantial gains in these elections. Its leader, Alexis Tsipras, expects the Greek election results to resonate throughout Europe. “People will send a strong message to all of Europe and will turn a new page, leaving behind the catastrophic political powers,” he said.