ATHENS, Greece – With Greece firmly harnessed to the strict terms of its third bailout, Sunday's election should have little impact on future economic policies.
The main issue in the close race between radical-left Syriza and center-right New Democracy is whether the new government can be significantly longer-lived than its seven-month predecessor. Neither seems close to an absolute majority, which promises a bout of coalition shuffleboard.
Here are the nine parties forecast to enter parliament.
Leader: Alexis Tsipras, 41
Eight months after winning power on a defiantly anti-austerity platform later discarded to secure vital bailout funds, Alexis Tsipras is still tipped to win — albeit by a tiny margin. Syriza is telling disgruntled Greeks it likes impending new tough tax hikes and income cuts no more than they do, but, while bound to enforce them, it will do its best to soften the pain.
Leader: Vangelis Meimarakis, 62
Under Meimarakis, the center-right party on whose watch Greece's economy imploded in 2009 is a close second to Syriza, which nearly oversaw the country's expulsion from the eurozone and the European Union. Campaigning under the banner of stability, it has proposed a broad coalition with Syriza — which declined — and backs the bailout deal. It has sought to play down its past, conservative, streak, and Meimarakis' bluff, avuncular personality has boosted ratings.
Leader: Nikos Mihaloliakos, 58
A Nazi-inspired fringe group that became a mainstream player in 2012, when it first entered parliament riding an anti-establishment and anti-immigration wave. Party officials insist they are bona fide nationalists, but are very fond of Nazi music and paraphernalia. In an apparent nod to political correctness, they now rarely use the Nazi "Sieg Heil" slogan. Its leadership is on trial for allegedly running a criminal organization that used violence to spread its beliefs. The party came third last time.
Leader: Fofi Gennimata, 51.
A shadow of the behemoth that dominated Greek politics in past decades, PASOK is running in coalition with the tiny Democratic Left party. Gennimata is a retired bank employee and daughter of a former PASOK heavyweight, and held junior Cabinet positions over the past six years. PASOK, which backs the terms of Greece's three bailout deals — and lost six sevenths of its initial support for its involvement in the first two — is a strong candidate for a junior coalition partner, whoever wins on Sunday.
GREEK COMMUNIST PARTY
Leader: Dimitris Koutsoumbas, 60
Unreconstructed Marxist-Leninists who praise Joseph Stalin and explain the world in terms of imperialist, capitalist and reactionary machinations. The party, founded in 1918, is Greece's oldest party. It wants to pull Greece out of the European Union, the eurozone, NATO and other organizations. The party has ruled out governing even if it ever wins national elections, and refuses to cooperate with other parties.
TO POTAMI (THE RIVER)
Leader: Stavros Theodorakis, 52
A centrist pro-bailout party that advocates reform and market liberalization. Politically untested, The River markets itself as a new brush in corrupt, staid Greek politics, pledging to introduce meritocracy and common sense to the country's public sector. Formed last year, it drew backing from prominent technocrats and intellectuals, and came fourth in the last election with 6 percent.
Leader: Panagiotis Lafazanis, 64
A Syriza splinter party of hard-line leftists who resent the previous government's austerity volte-face. Lafazanis is a former energy minister who still refers to St. Petersburg as Leningrad. The month-old party wants to take Greece out of the eurozone, repudiate its debt mountain and seek alliances outside the EU. Lafazanis has described adopting a new national currency would be as simple as drinking a glass of water.
Leader: Vassilis Levendis, 64
For the past 23 years, it was a giggle-inducing minnow that derived cult status from its leader's late-night rants on his own marginal TV station. The Centrists' Union is now polling above the 3 percent parliamentary threshold, partly due to Levendis' simple platform of fighting corruption and unfair privilege. Levendis wants to gradually cut sales tax and allow private exploitation of archaeological sites.
Leader: Panos Kammenos, 50
The small right-wing populist party provided the big surprise of January's election, joining in a politically mismatched coalition with Syriza. Anti-austerity to start with, the Independent Greeks backed Syriza in its policy U-turn and tagged along with most of Syriza's policy moves. Kammenos was given the defense portfolio. They're Tsipras' preferred new coalition partner, but may not enter parliament.