Tsipras Fights for 2nd Chance in Vote

Tsipras Fights for 2nd Chance in VoteTsipras Fights for 2nd Chance in Vote

Greece’s maverick leader Alexis Tsipras fights Sunday for a second chance to govern the struggling eurozone nation in a tense race with rival conservatives that is proving too tight to call.

Polls opened at 0400 GMT in the cliffhanger vote pitting his radical left Syriza party against the conservative New Democracy bloc headed by tough-talking ex-lawyer and defense minister, Vangelis Meimarakis, who has wiped out the gap between right and left during the election campaign, AFP reported.

The latest statistics show Tsipras leading Meimarakis by only a narrow margin, with polls showing the Syriza leader’s advantage ranges from 0.7% to 3.0%.

It was his own cash-for-reforms deal with Greece’s international lenders in July, signed days after Greeks overwhelmingly voted “No” to more austerity in a national referendum that upset supporters.

Tsipras was forced to call a new election to ensure a strong enough majority to implement the reforms. But in a slap in the face this week, his flamboyant former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said he would vote for the breakaway hardliners rather than Tsipras.

Under the deal pledging an €86 billion ($97 billion) rescue for Greece, its third in five years, there will be more unpopular austerity on the way whoever winds up winning Sunday’s vote.

With nine parties hoping to enter parliament, no group is likely to secure an outright majority and Tsipras’s Syriza party could well need an ally from among those he despises.