Athens (Greece), June 17 (Xinhua-ANI): Greek political leaders cast their ballots on Sunday in crucial general elections and expressed optimism over the results of the polls that could determine Greece's economic future and membership in the European single currency zone.
Today it is Greek peoples' turn to have a say and tomorrow a new era starts for Greece, conservative New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras said after casting his vote at the southern peninsula of Peloponnese.
According to the last opinion polls, pro-bailout Samaras is running neck-and-neck with anti-bailout Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA in the elections which have in fact turned into a referendum on austerity under international bailout agreements.
However, both are expected to fall short of parliamentary majority to form a one-party government. A coalition government therefore is expected to be formed to avoid a new round of elections.
Some 9.8 million Greek citizens eligible to vote returned to over 20,000 polling stations nationwide, as the first round of polls on May 6 ended inconclusive and parties leaders agree on a coalition government to lead Greece out of the debt crisis.
Greeks can and should safeguard social cohesion and our nation's unity... Tomorrow the country should have a government. The only viable solution is a government of national shared responsibility, socialist PASOK party chief Evangelos Venizelos said, after casting his ballot at the northern city port of Thessaloniki.
PASOK which is expected to rank third in Sunday's elections, shares ND's view that the next government should seek only a review of the tough austerity terms with EU-International Monetary Fund lenders to ease the deep recession and remain in euro.
SYRIZA's position that Greece should abolish the memorandum and apply a different economic policy mix to overcome the crisis has caused alarm beyond Greek borders, since lenders have warned that if any unilateral action were taken, they would pull the plug on Athens' financial lifeline.
In that case, Greece could go bankrupt and be forced out of the euro zone, causing turmoil in the international financial system, analysts have stressed.
Polling stations will remain open until 19:00 p.m. local time. Unofficial exit polls are due to be announced shortly afterwards, while the first official projections are expected around 21:30 p.m. (Xinhua-ANI)