Greeks throughout the country were voting on Sunday in the second round of local government elections, as polls opened at 7:00 a.m. and will close at 7:00 p.m.
Eleven out of 13 regions will be decided in the run-off election, as well as 221 out of 325 municipalities, including the country's three largest cities -- Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus. The rate of abstention in the first round last Sunday reached 39 percent.
Voting in his home town of Ioannina on Sunday morning, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias called on the citizens to not abstain from the elections process and the struggles being waged by the Greek people. "I criticise those who believe that their rage can be expressed from their couches, by staying at home," he said.
"Democracy in Greece was won through tough struggles and with wide participation by the people," the President stressed, adding that "democracy requires struggles, and one cannot speak of struggles and the country's progress while sitting on his couch".
Prime minister George Papandreou stressed the local admi-nistration nature of the run-offs, stressing that the Kallikratis public administration reform plan is a fundamental basis for confronting the crisis the country is going through.In a statement after casting his vote, Papandreou called on the citizens to choose capable people who will stand by the citizens and give impetus to the new institution. He described the Kallikratis plan as the biggest change ever, a 'revolution' in local administration, one that can remedy problems and empower the citizens.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, voting in his hometown of Pylos, said that there are "two tickets in today's elections, that of the government for the Memorandum and the new measures it is preparing, and the ticket of hope, that opens roads and prospects for growth with social cohesion".
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, after casting her own vote, called on the citizens to vote against the "policy of the Memorandum" and "send a message to our lenders", while she also urged a strong turnout at a KKE-orga-nised protest rally in downtown Athens on Monday afternoon. "The Troika is coming, and it must receive its reply. The reply must be that the Greek people should not be the ones to pay the price," she added.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis called on the people to go to the polls and "vote with responsi-bility".
"The citizens will not vote loosely and awkwardly but responsi-bly and intelligently," he said.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader and parliamentary spokesman of the SYN-led Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) Alexis Tsipras said that the Left must mobilise the local societies and citizens, "and that is what it will do".
In a statement after casting his vote, Tsipras warned that "the morning after" will be a difficult day both for society and for local administration. Tsipras said that the main political conclusions had been reached in the first round, in which the "overwhelming majority of the citizens disapproved the policy of the Memorandum, the harsh measures and the Troika", and called on the citizens to vote for the Left-backed candidates.