Greece votes in parliamentary elections

Last Updated: Sun, May 06, 2012 10:10 hrs

Athens, May 6 (IANS) Greeks Sunday voted in crucial parliamentary elections that is expected to decide the country's future in the euro zone, and according to trends no single party is likely to gain a majority.

A total of about 10 million Greek voters are to cast their vote to choose among 32 political parties. Polling stations opened Sunday at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m, RIA Novosti reported.

Greece is holding the first general election since the debt crisis hit the country in late 2009.

The crisis had prompted the Greek authorities to implement deeply unpopular austerity measures in exchange for bailout funds from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Funds (IMF) to stave off a sovereign default.

According to BBC, the country's two mainstream parties -- centre-left Pasok and centre-right New Democracy parties who have been in coalition since last November -- are expected to lose support to anti-austerity candidates.

They are likely to suffer due to opposition to the austerity measures imposed by the government in exchange for international bailout funds.

The ability of any new government to carry on with the austerity programme will be crucial for Greece's continued access to bailout funds from the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - the so-called Troika.

Any political instability may prompt fresh questions over the country's place in the eurozone.

If any new Greek government deviates from its fiscal commitments, the country would have to "bear the consequences", said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble.

Opinion polls suggest voters, hit by record unemployment levels and drastic wage cuts, may elect an unprecedented number of small parties to the Greek parliament, RIA Novosti reported.

These parties are opposed to the harsh austerity measures that the country's two leading parties have undertaken to pursue in exchange for the EU/IMF bailouts.

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