Greek election 2015: How did we get here and what next?

James Nickerson
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Up to 9.8m Greeks can vote in tomorrow's General Election (Source: Getty)

Tomorrow the Greek people will go to the polls to cast their vote on who will lead their country, after months of negotiations with international creditors that resulted in a bailout, further austerity and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling the snap election.

The backstory

On joining the Euro some nine years prior in 2001, and spending a lot of the new cheap money, Greece had to ask international creditors for help paying its bills in 2010.

As time went on, billions of euros were lent to Greece. But in exchange, hard austerity programmes were enforced. In 2014 unemployment reached 26.5 per cent and GDP contracted by 25 per cent since 2010, pushing the country to discontent.

Read more: Syriza ahead in latest poll by fine margin

Enter Alexis Tsipras. In January Syriza, a left wing party, won an election to take over from New Democracy, under the stewardship of Tspiras, given his pledge to negotiate a better deal with Europe.

The plot thickens

A coalition built under his leadership, Tsipras dispatched economist Yanis Varoufakis to negotiations on behalf of Greece, which dragged on for months and appeared at times to be at breaking point.

Then, in a fairly shocking turn of events, Tsipras called a referendum on the bailout conditions, which the country rejected with a “No” vote. Of course, not everyone cared about this result and at one point European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker even dismissed the referendum as an “irrelevant circus”.

After all the bickering, in the end, Varoufakis resigned, pledging to wear the international creditors’ contempt for him with pride, and Tsipras had to accept austerity to unlock a third bailout deal worth €86bn.

This austerity included VAT rises and pension cuts that Tsipras had previously said he would not accept.

And so the Greek Prime Minister, after 206 turbulent days in office, called snap elections in August, in an effort to shore up support and gain a fresh mandate.

What next?

When the election was called, Syriza had a comfortable lead in the polls, but has seen that simmer away recently.

And now the polls are neck and neck between Tsipras’ Syriza and the party which it replaced, New Democracy.

Up to 9.8m Greeks could turn out to vote, and parties need to reach a threshold of three per cent of the vote to enter the 300 seat parliament on a four year term.

Read more: Poll puts Syriza in second place just behind New Democracy for first time since January

The party which gains the most votes takes 50 seats, and the other 250 are elected through proportional representation.

If no party wins an outright majority, the leader of the largest party gets given a mandate to form a coalition. Failing that, the second party will be given a chance to form a coalition, then the third.

Based on polling, it is likely that Syriza will be given the opportunity to build a coalition, most likely with some of the smaller parties such as To Potami or Pasok.

But, as many incidents in this Greek drama have shown, no one can say for sure what will happen.

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