Published June 15, 2012
Greeks go to the polls in a repeat national election on June 17 that could decide whether Greece stays in the euro or heads down a path that could see it ejected from the single currency, spreading turmoil across global financial markets.
Greeks humiliated conservative New Democracy and Socialist PASOK - the two parties that alternated in power for decades and are largely blamed for the country's economic plight - denying either of them a majority and forcing the repeat vote.
At stake is whether Athens sticks to the harsh terms of a hugely unpopular 130 billion euro EU/IMF bailout. Below is a look at the main parties contesting in the election:
- Antonis Samaras, who angered EU peers by voting against the first Greek bailout, took over the party helm in 2009 and has made clear that, while he accepts the main targets of the austerity program, he will renegotiate how to reach them.
- Neck-and-neck with his radical leftist rivals SYRIZA on a pro-euro agenda, Samaras has warned that if Greece rejects the bailout package, the country will be plunged into an uncontrollable nightmare.
- Promising to jump-start growth in the country's recession-mired economy and to not impose new taxes, he said his proposals would keep Greece in the euro while allowing it to have a more palatable austerity program.
- The Conservatives enjoyed wide support in the boom years in the mid-2000s, but Costas Karamanlis' five years in power were beset by scandals leading to the fall of his government.
- Greece's youngest party leader at 37, Alexis Tsipras has transformed an obscure fringe party into one of the two strongest forces in Greek politics.
- Public rage at Greece's two traditional mainstream parties and the tough conditions tied to the 130 billion euro bailout catapulted SYRIZA into second place with 16.8 percent of the vote in an inconclusive May 6 election.
- Tsipras refused to join any coalition government, prompting Sunday's repeat vote which opinion polls show he may win.
- He has vowed to scrap the bailout but keep Greece in the euro - a task European leaders say is impossible - and to nationalize banks, stop privatizations, tax the rich and erase the debt.
- Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, who played the key role in securing Greece's latest aid package, bore the brunt of public anger over Greece's economic mismanagement in the May 6 vote.
- PASOK trails far behind New Democracy and SYRIZA but could play a role in a coalition, and Venizelos says both his rivals would have to be included in a unity government to head off the danger of street protests against any new administration.
- The former finance minister has promised to focus on structural reforms like opening up closed professions and plans to lower social security contributions to kick-start the economy and boost employment.
- PASOK's founder Andreas Papandreou, who presided over Greek politics for over two decades, is widely blamed for inflating the country's welfare state and generous treatment of public sector workers.
- Panos Kammenos' right-wing Independent Greeks rode a wave of discontent over severe wage cuts and entered parliament for the first time in the May 6 election with 10.6 percent.
- Kammenos says Greece can easily cover any funding gap by getting advance payments on future oil and gas receipts.
- He plans to raise 250 billion euros by selling financial instruments known as Collateral Debt Obligations and dismisses the idea that Greece will exit the euro if it reneges on its bailout agreement.
- Led by mild-mannered lawyer Fotis Kouvelis, the pro-EU party was formed barely two years ago with an anti-bailout message, pledging reforms to tackle tax evasion and corruption.
- Kouvelis wants gradual disengagement from the loan agreement and says Greece needs to boost growth to pull itself out of recession. He wants 60 percent of Greek debt to be transferred to the European Central Bank.
- Democratic Left won 6.1 percent of the vote and would get about 6 percent of the vote in the June 17 elections, according to the latest polls.
- Communist KKE has been a fixture in Greek politics for decades despite being outlawed for much of the time until the fall of a military junta in 1974.
- With a hammer and sickle in its logo, the party, which secured 8.5 percent of the vote on May 6, still espouses Marxist-Leninist ideology two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
- Communist leader Aleka Papariga says her aim is not to win power during the elections, but to have a weak government installed that would set the stage for a workers' revolution.