Greeks fed up with austerity voted on Sunday in elections that could decide their future in the eurozone amid unprecedented external pressure not to vote for a radical leftist party.
Some 9.8 million Greeks began voting in a showdown between the conservative New Democracy party and the anti-austerity Syriza party that has spooked European leaders
and the markets.
The man at the centre of the storm,Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras,said his side would win and Greece would keep its place as an “equal” member in a “changing” Europe.
“We have conquered fear,” Tsipras told a room packed with reporters from around the globe,an apparent reference to criticism that his threat to scrap a multi-billion EU-IMF loan agreement endangers Greece’s eurozone membership.
“Today we open a path to hope,to a better future,” the 37-year-old former student leader said after casting his vote in the working-class Athens district of Kypseli.
“We will win,” Tsipras said.
Greek newspapers said the vote was the most critical since the end of military rule in 1974,as conservative chief Antonis Samaras argued that a “new era” would begin for the recession-hit eurozone state on Monday.
“Today the Greek people speak. Tomorrow a new era starts for Greece,” Samaras said in his hometown of Pylos in the southern Peloponnese peninsula.
The To Vima weekly spoke of a “salvation ballot,” warning of a “visible danger” that Greece will leave the eurozone.
“A vote on the euro,Greece in its most critical electoral confrontation,” headlined the Ethnos daily.
“This moment is very critical. This is an election that makes people very,very anxious,” said 62-year-old pensioner Andreas Pappas after casting his ballot at an elementary school in central Athens.