Greeks go to the polls in a repeat national election on June 17 that will decide if Greece stays in the euro zone and which could spread turmoil across global financial markets.
Voters fed up with the harsh measures attached to a 130 billion euro international bailout vented their anger against mainstream parties in an inconclusive May 6 election and appear split over the choices offered in the repeat vote.
The last polls show Alexis Tsipras, an upstart radical leftist opposing the bailout, racing neck-and-neck with Antonis Samaras, the conservative heir of a prominent Greek family.
Below are some key facts about the election process in Greece:
- Polling stations are open roughly from dusk to dawn on Sunday, starting at 7 a.m local time (0400 GMT) and closing at 7 p.m., when the first exit polls are published. A first official projection of the result is expected from 9-9:30 p.m. The final results could be announced in the early hours of Monday.
- Voting in parliamentary elections is compulsory in Greece, with about 9.9 million Greeks aged over 18 eligible to vote. About half of the voters are aged between 18-29 or over 66.
- Parties need to secure at least 3 percent of the vote to enter parliament for a four-year term. The party that comes first gets an automatic 50-seat bonus, so that even a slim advantage could play a decisive role in determining which party forms the next government.
- Greece is divided into 56 local constituencies and the number of deputies elected in each constituency depends on the region's population.
- Voters in Athens, where half of the country's 11 million population live, elects 59 deputies. Twelve of the 300 lawmakers are directly appointed by the parties.
NO OUTRIGHT MAJORITY
- If, as the latest opinion polls show, no party wins an outright majority, Greek President Karolos Papoulias gives the party leader with the most votes three days to forge a coalition government with other parties.
- Should this fail, the president hands the exploratory mandate to the second party, and then to the third. Negotiations could be wrapped up within hours.
- However, if all efforts to form a government fail, the president will ask for the formation of a caretaker government with the participation of all parties elected in parliament and tasked with calling new elections.
- According to the last polls published two weeks ahead of the election, supporters and opponents of Greece's international bailout are virtually neck-and-neck. The parties set to enter parliament are:
- The conservative New Democracy, the radical left SYRIZA, the socialist PASOK, the right-wing Independent Greeks, the communist KKE, the center-right Democratic Alliance and the extreme right Golden Dawn.
For an interactive look at the euro zone debt crisis, click on crisis http://link.reuters.com/dyc78s ))