Crucial vote today
Voting takes place today for the general election in Greece which has been brought forward from 2013 due to the economic crisis in the country. The democratically elected Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government collapsed last year and the country has been ruled by a government of national unity being formed to steer the country through a major austerity programme.
There are 300 seats in the Hellenic Parliament with 238 of them directly elected and the largest party taking a bonus 50 seats. Voting will take place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in 20,560 polling stations for 6,510 candidates with 9,850,803 registered voters.
The new parliament will sit on 17th May.
There are a record 32 political parties standing in the election although the real battle will be between PASOK and the New Democracy Party (ND).
In 2009 PASOK took 43.92% of the vote and 160 seas whilst New Democracy took 33.48% and 91 seats. Both parties are doing much worse in the current opinion polls. PASOK has dropped to around 14% of the vote and New Democracy is on 21.5%. The result looks like New democracy will emerge the largest party with around 110 seats but it will then be forced into discussions with other parties who are emerging as an anti-austerity minority.
The election has also seen the emergence of some extremist parties all of whom look like they might gain some seats in the new parliament. This means that Greece is far from clear of all of its economic and political woes which in turn could lead to more turmoil in the Eurozone and certainly in the markets.