Syriza leading in exit polls as disillusioned Greeks cast votes in snap election

As votes are being counted in Greece, exit polls show it’s a neck-and-neck race between the leading political forces - the leftist Syriza and conservative New Democracy parties. Neither promises an end to austerity.

The elections were called by the former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, after the country secured a new bailout from international lenders.

"I am optimistic," he said shortly after voting, as cited by AP. "Tomorrow, a new day starts."

On Sunday evening, a combined poll from five Greek television stations showed that Syriza is expected to win marginally with 33 to 35 percent of vote, while New Democracy is predicted to get 28.5 to 32.5 percent.

The first official estimates on the website of the Interior Ministry give the following statistics:
Syriza – 35.1 percent
New Democracy – 28.46 percent
Votes counted – 13.85 percent

READ MORE: Varoufakis: Tories will use fear of Greek-style collapse to attack Labour anti-austerity (VIDEO)

Any winner in Sunday’s election will have to function within the framework of the bailout agreement struck by Tsipras’ government under pressure from European creditors.

Syriza’s main rival, the center-right New Democracy Party, has pledged to carry on with the bailout program.

This has caused frustrations to grow among voters, as it seems the elections are unlikely to change anything.

RT spoke to Greek citizens on the streets and their confusion with the lack of real choice is obvious.

“I have faith in New Democracy. I don’t trust Syriza. They are liars and scumbags,” one of the respondents said.

“The agreements have been signed with powerful countries, they cannot be canceled. We Greeks know, even though we don’t want to, that we have to suffer all these agreements,” was another opinion.

With Syriza suffering a blow in popularity having chosen the austerity path, its rivals are hopeful they can capitalize on the situation. These include the leftist Popular Unity formed by 25 former Syriza members, which rejects all austerity measures. The party also thinks that leaving the EU, the so-called Grexit plan, would be the best option for Athens.

“We have an undeclared war with memorandum policies, and we are waging a war to end them,” Popular Unity leader, Panagiotis Lafazanis, told RT.

On the other extreme is the far-right group Golden Dawn. It too wants to end austerity, but also promises to crack down on illegal immigration.

“Golden Dawn is the only political party fighting back against the two wounds afflicting Greece: the memorandum and illegal migration,” Ilias Kasidiaris, Greek MP and Golden Dawn spokesperson, told RT

“Golden Dawn in this specific phase will be the opposition. It will get a two-digit percentage of the vote. And this is step number one. Because our goal, at the next elections, is to be voted into government,” Kasidiaris said.

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says no matter who comes to power, it will be hard to stand up to the European Union over austerity. He was sharing his thoughts on RT’s Going Underground with Afshin Rattansi.

READ MORE: Varoufakis attacks Tsipras, advises anti-austerity UK Labour Party head Corbyn in RT interview