Greece has voted for a new parliament for the second time in less than two months, with the conservative New Democracy party expected to win a landslide victory and a clear majority.
Polling stations across the country opened at 7 am (04:00 GMT) on Sunday and closed 12 hours later, with results expected by about 17:00 GMT.
According to exit polls, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who served as prime minister from 2019 to 2023, is set to secure a second term in office with about 45% of the vote, followed by the left-wing Syriza party of former prime minister Alexis Tsipras with about 25%.
Mitsotakis campaigned on a platform of economic growth, security, and stability, promising to lower taxes, attract foreign investment and create jobs. He also vowed to continue his tough stance on migration and border control, amid a recent surge of arrivals from Turkey and Libya.
Tsipras, who led Greece through some of the most difficult years of its financial crisis and signed a third bailout deal with international creditors in 2015, tried to rally his voter base by highlighting the social achievements of his government, such as raising the minimum wage, restoring collective bargaining and expanding public health care.
However, he faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic, which hit Greece hard and caused a deep recession in 2020. He also faced backlash from some of his former allies who formed splinter parties, such as MeRA25 led by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
The vote was overshadowed by a major shipwreck off the coast of western Greece just over a week ago that left hundreds of migrants dead or missing. The disaster sparked outrage over the government’s response and its restrictive migration policy, which has been accused of violating human rights and international law.
But the tragedy did not seem to sway many voters, who focused on domestic economic issues and gave Mitsotakis a strong mandate to continue his reforms and recovery plans.
The new electoral system, which grants a bonus of between 25 and 50 seats to the winning party depending on its performance, makes it easier for a party to win more than the required 151 seats in Parliament to form a government.
According to exit polls, New Democracy could win up to 170 seats, while Syriza could get around 70. The other parties expected to enter parliament are the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) with about 8%, the far-right Greek Solution with about 5%, and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with about 4%.
The turnout was estimated at around 55%, slightly lower than in May when it was 58%.