Polls across Greece have opened as people cast their vote to elect their next parliament on Sunday, July 7. Sunday’s election was called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party after suffering a defeat in May’s European elections. The centre-right opposition New Democracy (ND) party of Kyriakos Mitsotakis are now mounting a strong challenge to the left-wing government, which has ruled for nearly five years. This is the first time Greek voters head to the polls since the height of its financial crisis.
What are the polls showing?
Opinion polls suggest that Kyriakos Mitsotakis and centre-right ND will be forming the next government, potentially with an outright majority in parliament.
If proven right, the election will close the book on the populist rhetoric of current Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Athanasia Kokkinogeni, Europe senior analyst at consulting firm DuckerFrontier, told CNBC: “During 2010-2014, the Greek people suffered heavily from high taxes, squeezed salaries and pensions, climbing unemployment and a broadly failing economy.
READ MORE: Why Alexis Tsipras could be ousted after disastrous four years
“People’s despair resulted in wide protests in the streets, and the Greeks were seeking for the culprits; the far-left Alexis Tsipras appeared to be their saviour at this time.”
The latest polls show centre-right ND leading the ruling against radical-left Syriza by 9-11 percentage points.
The party could win as many as 165 seats in the 300-seat big parliament.
That means Mr Mitsotakis is poised to lead Greece for the next four years.
READ MORE: Erdogan fires WARNING at EU as Turkey vs Greece tensions soar
On Thursday, during the final election rally, Mr Mitsotakis promised prosperity after a decade-long financial crisis.
He told the hundreds of supporters in the Greek capital of Athens: “The warmth of your reception is a sign that tomorrow Greece is lifting its head high, but it’s also pulling up its sleeves to build a new future.”
The snap election comes three months before the end of Prime Minister Tsipras’s term is up.
It was called following ND’s triumph over Syriza in the European elections.
The Prime Minister’s party, Syriza, stormed to power in 2015, replacing a ND-led government.
Greece suffered the worst of recessions in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, with more than a million jobs lost.
The Syriza government promised to end austerity, but failed to fix the issues, and essentially spooked foreign investors and bank depositors.
The crisis triggered a succession of financial bailouts, with the Greek economy shrinking by 28 percent between 2008 and 2016.