- Image 1 of 3
- Image 2 of 3
- Image 3 of 3
ATHENS, Greece – Greece goes to the polls Sunday in a snap general election that has thrown into question whether the country will abide by the terms of its international bailout agreement if the left-wing Syriza comes to power.
A minimum 3 percent is needed to enter parliament, and 151 of the 300 seats to form a government. The top vote-winner earns a 50-seat bonus. If no party reaches the threshold, a coalition must be formed to avoid repeat elections.
Here is a look at the parties:
Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left). Leader: Alexis Tsipras, 40.
Widely tapped to win, though possibly without enough votes to form a government on its own, Syriza has seen a meteoric rise during Greece's financial crisis. Tsipras has pledged to repeal many bailout commitments, saying he will not be bound by the signatures of previous governments. Critics accuse Syriza of being unrealistic and nebulous over how it will fund promised spending. The party has also struggled to contain occasionally wild comments by some of its more radical members — including suggestions of leaving the euro, printing money and defaulting on Greece's debt.
New Democracy. Leader: Antonis Samaras, 63.
The conservative party has headed the current two-party governing coalition since 2012. Samaras has promised some tax cuts, and points to figures showing Greece is gradually emerging from a six-year recession. But his popularity has suffered from the austerity measures his government imposed. New Democracy has been accused of running a fear campaign against Syriza, warning of the potentially dire consequences of not adhering to bailout terms, including bankruptcy and leaving the eurozone.
To Potami (The River). Leader: Stavros Theodorakis, 51.
The new centrist party founded last year by a former journalist is vying for third place and is seen as a potential kingmaker if Syriza fails to garner enough seats to govern alone. Staunchly pro-European, it has attracted voters from across the political spectrum. Theodorakis has campaigned on a slogan of "changing everything without destroying the country" and says many bailout terms were onerous but that Greece must cooperate with its European partners. Opinion polls show it at about 5 percent.
Golden Dawn. Leader: Nikos Mihaloliakos, 57.
The extreme right-wing, Nazi-inspired populist party went from near total obscurity to vying for third place, running on an anti-bailout, nationalist, virulently anti-immigrant platform. Mihaloliakos and most of his top lawmakers are campaigning from prison, where they are awaiting trial on charges of participating in a criminal organization. Opinion polls put them at about 5 percent.
Pasok (Panhellenic Socialist Movement). Leader: Evangelos Venizelos, 58.
Once a formidable power that led Greek politics for much of the past 40 years, Pasok has been hammered by its role in signing successive bailout deals and imposing austerity measures. After an ignominious defeat in 2012, Pasok continued hemorrhaging supporters, leaving it currently polling at around 4 percent. Venizelos took over the party in 2012 after a gamble by its former leader and prime minister, George Papandreou, to call a referendum on a hard-won bailout deal fell through.
KKE (Communist Party of Greece). Leader: Dimitris Koutsoubas, 59.
Proudly pro-Soviet, the communist party has changed little to none of its rhetoric over the past decades, railing against capitalism, the European Union and NATO. It is the only major party to openly advocate Greece exiting the euro and the European Union. It has ruled out providing any support to a potential Syriza-led government, and refused in 2012 to participate in a coalition government, saying its role was in opposition.
Independent Greeks. Leader: Panos Kamenos, 49.
Kamenos founded the right-wing populist anti-bailout party in 2012 after splitting with New Democracy. Despite being ideologically the polar opposite of Syriza, the two have implied they would be open to forming a coalition government. One of the Independent Greeks' lawmakers recently quit the party and joined Syriza. It is polling at just over 3 percent.
Movement of Democratic Socialists. Leader: George Papandreou, 62.
The former prime minister who first signed Greece's bailout deal, Papandreou split about a month ago from the Pasok party his father founded in the 1980s and with which he first came to power in 2009. Polls show him struggling to get into parliament, currently polling at 3 percent. He has pledged to put critical decisions to a referendum — the very move that cost him his premiership in 2012.