On Sunday, Greek voters head to the polls to elect a new government, in a closely watched election which could determine whether Greece stays in the euro or not. Banks are already preparing for the worst, in the event that Greek voters opt for the party which has promised to abandon the euro, an outcome which could put Europe's economy in jeopardy.
Two main parties are vying for control of the parliament, the conservative New Democracy party which helped to negotiate the original bailout deal with the troika and has promised to stick with the agreement, and the leftist Syriza party, which has rejected the troika agreeement and wants to revamp it entirely.
If you haven't been following the elections closely, here's what you need to know: In Februrary, the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the IMF (known as the "troika") agreed to give Greece a $170 billion bailout for its billions of dollars of debt. But, in return, Greece had to impose a series of austerity measures which were deeply unpopular with voters. If Greek voters reject the New Democracy party and abandon the terms of the bailout, then the country may default on its debt and be forced to leave the euro.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has said that he wants Greece to stay in the euro, but it is unclear if that could happen, as members of his coalition are demanding a dramatic new renogitation of the bailout agreement. He may hae difficulty forming a coalition government. Meanwhile, if New Democracy wins, it will have to figure out a new way to make the bailout agreement work. Leader Antonis Samaras will look to make modifications like allowing Greece more flexibility to repay its loans to offering money for infrastructre projects in Greece.
Polls ahead of Sunday’s vote show rising support for Syriza.
Most economists feel Greece's exit from the euro zone would force the country into a full-blown crisis in the country, leading to riots and social unrest. But it could also have wide implications for the rest of Europe, as investors and depositors withdraw their money from countries like Spain and Italy which face similar debt problems. Greece may be the glue that holds the euro together, and a Greek withdrawal could lead to a continent-wide collapse.
Due to the wide-reaching implications of this election, Monday is shaping up to be one of the most closely watched days for global stock markets in years.
PolicyMic will be covering the results of the Greek election live. For real-time updates, refresh this page.
Wednesday 4:41 pm:
Sunday 4:00 pm:
The New Democracy Party's unofficial victory has already had an impact on the global market. The euro hit a three-week high against the U.S. dollar after the Interior Ministry issued it's official projections. It's already Monday early morning in the Australia/Asia markets. The euro also rose slightly against the Japanese Yen, as did the U.S., Australian and New Zealand dollars.
Sunday 3:39 pm:
Journalists tweet regarding Tsipras' concession speech that he keeps in mind that Syriza is still the second party in parliament, but perhaps because of emotion and Samaras not mentioning any re-negotiation of bailout agreements with the EU, the party may well be in the most dynamic position:
Sunday 3:28 pm:
From Antonis Samaras' victory speech:
"The Greek people have voted today for the European direction of the country and for us to remain in the euro, and it voted for those policies which will bring jobs... we will not have new adventures. We will not doubt the position of Greece in Europe. We will not be reigned by fear, and espcially the sacrifices the Greek people have made will be realised significantly.
We do invite all of those political parties that do take into acocunt all of these objectives to participate in a colaition of national unity. we do not have any time to waste.. the country must be governed."
Basically, Greeks are staying in the Euro and the world should not fear a Grexit anymore. Samaras indicates some willingness to form a coalition as long as the majority within the coalition is recognized as ND principles.
Sunday 3:25 pm:
Reports indicate an ND victory. Alexis Tsipras, from Syriza, has reportedly called Antonis Samaras of the ND Party to congratulate him. Samaras is set to give a speech in a few moments. No word yet on what coalitions could be formed, but Syriza is counting the results as a victory because they can now be a strong opposition in parliament as a opposed to the weak coalition they were mere weeks ago.
Sunday 3:09 pm:
With nearly 42% of the vote officially counted, the Interior Ministry is projecting the following according the various pollsters in-country:
Syriza: 27.12% (72 seats)
Pasok: 12.2% (23 seats)
Independent Greeks: 7.56% (20 seats)
Golden Dawn: 6.95% (18 seats)
Democratic Left: 6.23% (17 seats)
Greek Communist Party: 4.47% (12 seats)
Sunday 2:42 pm:
Pasok is going back and forth on whether they will join a coalition government or not. First, saying they would not join unless Syriza is also included, but now saying it is a possibility. Part of the confusion is actually their relative level of success. Any votes below 10% of the total would have given cause to lower ranking leadership in Pasok to overthrow chairman Venizelos. With him still in charge, mixed messages are being sent to the public before and after election.
Sunday 2:22 pm:
Official results are trickling out of the Interior Ministry. Only about 20% of the vote has been officially counted. New Democracy is ahead by approximately 2.5%, but given the exit poll results the end could be quite a bit closer. The world is watching the results with bated breath, but here is what Greeks are concerned with about their own Parliament as filmed by France24.
Sunday 2:07 pm:
Projections from various sources have exit polls putting New Democracy at around a 2% lead. If they form a fragile coalition with Pasok and Democratic Left, they could have majority. However, given the strong emotions surrounding austerity measures, it could be a rough go at it.
According the Greek newspapers and TV stations, the second round of exit polls has come out, accounting for more than 80% of all the vote. The minimum percentage required for a coalition government, currently 151 seats, is set at 37.8%. Normally, it would be 51% but the majority winner in this race gets a bonus 50 seats, which is accounted for in the 35-38% range.
Sunday 1:07 pm:
On the financial front: worries over the outcome of the election are not just for voters and leaders, but also, more importantly central banks. The European Central Bank's President Mario Draghi said they are willing and able to fund any "viable" bank from the euro zone that needs help. The criteria for eligibility has not been announced, however. The Bank of England on Thursday announced a $155 billion offer of loans to euro zone banks in dire need (Photo: Reuters).
Sunday 12:43 pm:
On SKAI TV, Golden Dawn (Neo-Nazi) party conducting presser, claiming their unofficial 4th place finish is a victory, as they have survived another election. Michaloliakos is proud that they will be the fourth largest party in parliament.
Sunday 12:28 pm:
Despite the massive withdrawals on banks every day last week, Journalist Amalia Negroponti tweets this post-election, but pre-official results:
The numbers are entirely too close to call at this point. Estimates put the 0.5% difference between Syriza and New Democracy at around 35,000 to 38,000 votes.
Sunday 12:06 pm:
Polls are officially closed! Here are the first exit polls issued by Greek TV stations. Both polls have New Democracy and Syriza in a dead heat:
Sunday 12:03 pm:
Greek state-run tv station is reporting a higher-than-normal abstention rate, compared to the May 6 election.
Sunday 11:53 am:
Polls close soon. Reports and rumors of a very tight race between Syriza and New Democracy. There is a rush at certain polling centers in Corinth and, it appears, stations near the beach where many young people are congregating. Syriza supporters eagerly await the first exit polls.
Sunday 11:42 am:
Exit polls are not out officially, but there is one private early-exit poll issued by the Pasok Party. Intriguing that even in their own private poll, they are definitely not in the lead..unless this was leaked as some sort of ploy to get last minute support. We saw the opposite in the Egyptian elections with certain candidates signalling victory in their early unofficial exit polls only to be proven wrong later in the day. Generally, Pasok is more supported in the rural areas of Greece however. Here are their unofficial, private poll results:
Sunday 11:25 am:
Nearly every major media outlet in the world is in Greece right now watching, waiting, and analyzing. Much has been made of the Greek vote impact on the rest of Europe's economy and thus the global economy. However, Nick Malkoutzis, deputy editor of Kathimerini English Edition, says, essentially, that loan agreements and bailout payments are not promises and bribes to vote a certain way. He makes note, particularly of EU leaders in Germany:
Reports indicate there is a split among Syriza voters with those who want to stay in the euro and those who want to leave. However, no concrete explanation yet of how austerity agreements will be abolished and Greece will continue in the euro zone. Where will the €15 billion a month come from?
Sunday 11:03 am:
As polls prepare to close at noon (EST), Twitter is abuzz with rumors about younger voters (who tend to vote late) potentially tipping the balance of the race towards the party they support:
Sunday 10:42 am:
Across the world, the EU-Mexico Summit has begun. It's a pre-cursor to the main event, the G20 Summit and of course, a possible Grexit and the EU are in the spotlight. Questions of the need for a central banking authority for stability and repercussions of the Greek vote will certainly be asked. Consider this, even India and China are offering their advice to the EU, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggesting the EU needs to take "resolute action" regarding euro zone regulatory policies and China recommending cooperation among EU members.
Sunday 10:28 am:
The Bar Association in Athens is suggesting this election could be challenged as a result of shares of seats being based on 2001 census data. There was a census in 2011 but the data has not been fully calculated and mapped out for the current election cycle.
Sunday 10:08 am:
Three potential scenarios have been laid out in the event of "Grexit": a) the bank run, where people would take all their money from Greek banks pushing the country's financial system to the brink; b) the managed exit: where the government would announce the return to the (new) Drachma during a bank holiday in order to prevent the stampede; and, c) the transition: where Greece's new drachma would coexist with the euro for some time before becoming the country's new currency. It seems that, after all, the world won't come to an end (even if Syriza wins the majority).
Sunday 9:48 am:
Despite the massive media coverage, the gravity of the vote for all of Europe and the world, and mandatory voting, there are some Greeks who are abstaining. Not a common occurrence, but among some of the very poor, reports say people don't feel their vote will make any difference. Euro or drachma, crisis or boom, they feel they will still remain at their economic level. There is also this take on those who abstain from Twitter:
Sunday 9:18 am:
An interesting point to note: Greek Constitution stipulates a Reinforced Proportional Representation. This not only means voters only choose a party, not specific candidates, (see previous update for details) but that also the Party that gets the majority of the vote across the country gets a bonus of 50 seats.
Sunday 9:03 am:
There are reports of a second hand grenade outside the SKAI television station. SKAI has been accused of airing propaganda for New Democracy and other austerity supporters. Military police have arrived and plan to have a controlled explosion of both the grenades to avoid any further harm.
Sunday 8:28 am:
The Telegraph caputres Alexis Tsipras arriving at a polling station a little while ago. Here's a commentary from Ekathimerini regarding candidate fashion; Greece is perhaps the birthplace of image politics!
Sunday 8:24 am:
As repoted by FT, voting in Greece is set to end in stalemate, with world leaders looking for signs that the country’s political parties will be able to form a government capable of implementing austerity measures agreed under its €174 billion bailout deal, and private opinion polls showed that none of the parties would win a parliamentary majority. The centre-right New Democracy party had a three-point lead over the radical left Syriza coalition, but neither party would capture even 30% per cent of the vote.
Sunday 8:06 am:
It definitely is coming down to an election of fear and hope. Here's something Joe Wiesenthal observed something you never see at a U.S. polling station. Picture of two of the many voting ballots: one from the Golden Dawn (Neo-Nazis) and the KKE (One of the Communist parties).
Sunday 7:54 am:
Former Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, has said he doesn't feel Greece and their fiscal policies were the major problem in this crisis, but inherent problems with the euro zone itself. In response to Tsipras' claims that the Syriza party wants to do away with earlier loan agreements and still stay in the euro, the prime minister warned the party "could not have their cake and eat it."
Sunday 7:44 am:
Reporters out of Athens have been talking to the people and here are some of their reactions from Twitter.
Sunday 7:31 am:
Election Day has been relatively peaceful despite mounting tensions and uncertainty. However, there are reports of a grenade being thrown at the Media SKAI Group television station. The hand grenade did not explode, police say.
Sunday 7:13 am:
Here is a short summary of the main candidates Greeks must choose from:
Party: New Democracy. On the political scale: Conservatives. Their leader is Antonis Samaras. ND actually won the May 6 election but saw their vote drop from 33.5% on the previous election in 2009 to 18.9%, which did not give them a majority. (See the infographic link below for a more detailed breakdown.)
Party: Pasok. On the political scale: Socialists. Their leader is Evangelos Venizelos. Austerity measures have not been kind to Pasok as they saw their numbers drop in the May 6 election when international creditors began calling in debts. It seems ironic to say in a way, but socialism costs money too.
Party: Syriza. On the political scale: Left of the left. Their leader is the young, camera-friendly, Alexis Tsipras. Basically, the party has stuck to this line throughout their campaigning: "The only route of dignity and prosperity for the European people is to reject the policies of austerity and recession and not that of accepting as whole the memorandum commitments, as Mr. Samaras does." Though Tsipras has said he does not support a Grexit, there has been no explanation of how that could happen if austerity measures are rejected. However, their support has grown among those suffering from the current austerity fallout.
Party: Independent Greeks. On the political scale: offshoot of New Democracy. Their leader is Panos Kammenos. They have claimed that Germany is trying to conquer Europe, using language and terms that harken images of WWI and WWII.
Party: Democratic Left. On the political scale: Socialist. Their leader is Fotis Kouvelis, who has said, in somewhat confusing fashion, that he will not join an obvious coalition with Pasok until another party joins first.
Party: Communist. On the political scale: Do Communists fit in on a scale? Their leader, interestingly, is a woman, Aleka Papariga. The party flat out states they want to leave the Euro and have also rejected any chance of winning seats since rejecting the possibility of forming a coalition with Syriza.
Party: Golden Dawn. On the political scale: absolutely crazy Neo-Nazis. Their leader is Ilias Panagiotaros and no one wants to form any coalition with them, perhaps one of the few bright spots in the whole economic mess.
Saturday 11:13 pm:
If you remember the thousands of protestors in Cairo's Tahrir Square, you may remember the amazing pictures of street art and graffiti that resulted from the Arab Spring. Slogans of anger, frustration, triumph, and freedom were depicted with national pride. The same artistic phenomenon seems to be happening in Greece. One artist said of a particular figure painted on a wall, ""from my point of view Greece at the moment is on the edge of going into anarchy." My favorite is one of a bikini model drawn in a parking lot. She has an amputated leg with the caption: Greece's next economic model. For more images, an artist who only goes by Bleeps has a website.
Saturday 10:25 pm:
Daily life has changed in many ways for Greeks, especially the lower to middle classes of the population. From grocery stores and plants closing, unemployment on the rise, defaults on payment on everything from rent and electricity to vendors, political campaigning has also changed. Ekathimerini's George Georgakopoulos explains how 'old school' rallies and glad-handing are still being used by some of the parties in lieu of the more passive television and internet-based strategies others have taken. It requires voters to be more active in their listening and enthusiasm, something they may not be used to doing.
Saturday 9:50 pm:
Banks have had to set a 300 Euro limit on ATMs in Greece due to a mass withdrawal of funds. Nearly $600 million was taken out of Greek banks every day in the last week. Even supermarkets, many run by France's Carrefour, have announced they are closing shop while other companies and banks isolate their Greek operations in order to shelter global impact.
Saturday 5:29 pm:
In light of a potential triumph by radical left party Syriza in tomorrow's Greek elections, the New York Times' Ross Douthat has described Alexis Tspiras party to American as "a far-left political coalition that has a chance to throw Europe into further turmoil with a victory in this weekend’s Greek elections, with elements from Occupy Wall Street and Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign."
Saturday 4:54 pm:
Greece wins their match against Russia in the UEFA Euro 2012 Cup!
It was certainly an unlikely victory since Russia had exhibited such skill in easily defeating the Czech Republic in their first game and Italy, in a friendly before the tournament. Ironically, Greece's next match is June 22 in which they play the winner of Group B. Germany is currently leading that group with 6 points and their match tomorrow is against Denmark, who just came off a tough match with Portugal. Just another reason, why soccer illustrates international affairs better than most experts can. Perhaps we can see another picture of Angela Merkel watching her team with world leaders next week!
Saturday 4:43 pm:
International pressure continues to mount this Saturday as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and other G20 leaders who prepare to meet on Monday in Los Cabos, Mexico, eye Greece's Sunday elections with weariness. Federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, who will be travelling with Harper to Mexico, said he hopes there will be an "unambiguous result" at the polls; since an "inconclusive outcome" could have an adverse impact on global financial markets and "create even more uncertainty." When asked if Greece would exit the euro zone, Flaherty said "it's up to the voters."
Saturday 3:56 pm:
Polls open at 4 a.m. GMT (11 PM EST) and close at 4 p.m. GMT (11 AM EST). The exit polls are released immediately after 5 p.m GMT (12 PM EST).
Voting is actually mandatory in Greece according to their constitution, though sanctions have not been enforced for abstainers.
Another point of the Greek constitution to take note of is that it dictates the voting method for an election held within 18 months of the previous one. According to Matina Stevis of the Wall Street Journal, "voters this time around will not be able to pick candidates from their party of choice by putting a cross next to their names. Instead, they will only vote for their party of choice." The parties have their internally organized lists of party members/candidates and who gets the seats will be determined by the ranking on that list and what percentage of the vote their party gets.
Saturday 3:41 pm:
Germany continued its intrusion in internal Greek political affairs when a German right-wing politician, Wolfgang Bosbach, Chairman of the Interior Ministry Committee in parliament and a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, warned "if the radical left carries on saying it wants the help of all the other countries in the Eurozone but does not offer anything in return, then it will only be a matter of time before Greece exits."
Saturday 2:35 pm:
Here's an amazing infographic from igraphics.gr regarding a breakdown of results from the May 6 election, showing why tomorrow's round is necessary due to lack of majority percentage for any of the parties. Only time will tell if tomorrow's election will result in some potentially powerful coalitions.
Saturday 2:28 pm:
German leaders have reporteldy grown so terrified of Alexis Tsipras, the telegenic leader of socialist party Syryza, that the German edition of the Financial Times recently published an online editorial -- in Greek -- calling Tsipras "a demagogue" and urging Greek voters to support instead for the conservative New Democracy party.
Saturday 1:45 pm:
Sky News gives a more personal look at the Greek elections and bailout effects. Official opinion polls are forbidden within two weeks of an election in Greece, but this video gives a good picture the various feelings of voters.
Saturday 1:01 pm:
For some experts, Grexit is an inevitability instead of just a possibility. Citi's Chief economist, William Buiter has been quoted as saying that no matter what the outcome of tomorrow's election, Greece will exit the euro and their currency will "immediately fall by 60%." According to the blog Daily Collateral, Citi states that the Grexit will most likely occur because of a need to print money in order to cover it's spending as cash reserves will be empty soon.
Saturday 12:13 pm:
Economic fallout has already begun in anticipation of the elections as many experts see the leftist Syriza party and Alex Tsipras getting a victory. Worried about a possible euro exit, despite Tsipras' claims, Coca-Cola’s has scaled back operations in Greece on the advice of Moody’s Investors Service. Shipping is one of, if not the biggest, industries in Greece. Two of the world's largest import-export insurers, Euler Hermes and Coface, have stopped covering any transactions involving the country. Imports have already been affected, delayed or cancelled, as importers are asked for payment upfront instead of standard letters of credit. Tourism is also suffering because of economic headlines, riots, and reports of possible further unrest.
Saturday 11:40 am:
On the heels of Merkel's warning, Christine Lagarde, IMF Chief and former French finance minister, also addressed the Eurozone issue by releasing a statement to France's Liberation newspaper:
"In the very short term, perhaps in less than three months, it is necessary for Europeans, particularly those in the heart of the euro zone, to give strong signals about their collective will to buttress their monetary union."
Lagarde stressed the importance of stricter enforcement of rules and collective decision making among Eurozone members, no doubt referring to lack of transparency in Greek financial reporting to Brussels in the past which covered up their economic troubles.
Saturday 11:30 am:
The head of the conservative New Democracy Party, Antonis Samaras, said the elections were a choice between keeping the Euro and returning to the drachma. His opponent, Alexis Tspiras from leftist party Syriza opposes the terms of an international bailout.
However, both candidates have been willing to pander to the more centrist parts of the electorate by claiming they would renegotiate the bailout (Samaras) and that they are not opposed to staying in the euro zone (Tspiras).
"We will exit the crisis; we will not exit the euro. We will not let anyone take us out of Europe," Samaras said at a campaign rally in Syntagma Square.
Saturday 10:43 am:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel flexed her political muscle by telling the Greeks she expects the country to honor its commintments to international creditors, regardless of the results of the elections.
Sensing a potential triumph by leftit party Syriza, Merkel stressed the importance of keeping the promises of reform countries make when asking for bailouts. "Europeans have to stop making promises they then break," she said; before concluding, at a gathering of her conservative party, that the most important thing was "to keep the agreements."