Greece’s ruling conservative New Democracy party was leading in a general election on Sunday, but looked set to fall short of an absolute majority to form a government, an exit poll showed.
If the poll is confirmed by results, Greece’s deeply divided political parties would have nine days to find partners for a governing coalition, or a new election would be called in roughly a month’s time.
The poll by six major polling agencies said New Democracy had between 36-40 percent of the vote, followed by the leftist Syriza with 25-29 percent. It was based on an 80 percent reading of the survey carried out at polling stations across the country.
Elections in Greece are held every four years for the 300-seat parliament.
Pollsters say a party would need more than 45 percent to win outright, a feat not seen since the landslide wins of the late Socialist Andreas Papandreou in the 1980s and early 1990S.
Voting ended at 1600 GMT.
A cost of living crisis dominated the campaign, with parties trying to woo voters with pledges to increase the minimum wage and create jobs. A price surge has had a profound impact on Greeks, whose living standards had been eroded by a decade-long debt crisis.
Greece almost crashed out of the euro at the peak of its debt crisis in 2015. Mitsotakis, elected in 2019, has portrayed himself as a safe pair of hands in his campaign to win the votes of just under 10 million Greeks.
“Today the country’s government responsibility has been passed on to you, the people, but I’m certain that tomorrow an even better day will dawn for our country,” Mitsotakis told journalists earlier after casting his vote.
His administration, however, took the brunt of public outrage over a February 28 rail crash killing 57 people, and a wiretapping scandal targeting politicians.