Greece heads to the polls under pall of fire tragedy | world | Hindustan Times
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Greece heads to the polls under pall of fire tragedy

world Updated: Sep 16, 2007 09:11 IST

AFP
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Nearly, ten million Greeks were to vote on Sunday for a new government in general elections held in the aftermath of a national fire tragedy which cast a pall on the entire campaign.

After one of the briefest electoral races in decades, pollsters expected a neck-and-neck run between the ruling conservative New Democracy party and the opposition Pasok socialists.

For although the ND party led by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis carried a slim lead into Sunday's decider, an unusually high number of undecided voters and general alienation over the fires that killed over 60 people makes this election impossible to call.

The 20,623 polling stations were scheduled to open across the country from 0930 to 2130 IST. Exit polls are expected to be released after 2130 IST. Result projections are expected around 0100 IST on Monday.

Karamanlis, 51, seeks a second four-year term on the strength of economic reforms that cut the deficit and unemployment and kept the economy growing at around four percent of GDP per year.

He called for early elections in mid-August, before the fires struck, for a new mandate to continue reforms which must urgently include an overhaul of Greece's moribund pensions system.

The socialists led by 55-year-old George Papandreou, formerly foreign minister until 2004, have accused the PM of failing to protect Greece from the fires and of neglecting promises to combat corruption.