Greeks begin voting in an election expected to bring to power the radical leftist Syriza party, which has pledged to take on international lenders and roll back painful austerity measures imposed during years of economic crisis. Justin Mitchell reports.
In Greece, it's time to make a decision -- one that could affect all of Europe. All signs are pointing to a huge win for radical left party Syriza -- and its pledge to end years of painful austerity measures imposed during years of economic crisis. Party leader Alexis Tsirpas cast his vote and called for a turning of the page. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEADER OF SYRIZA PARTY ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "Greek people will regain social cohesion and dignity. And the message is that our common future in Europe is not the future of austerity. It is the future of democracy, solidarity and cooperation." A S yriza win would represent a turning point for Europe, as it aims to form the first euro zone government openly committed to cancelling an EU and IMF-backed bailout programme. Current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras also voted -- and made a plea for staying the course. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER ANTONIS SAMARAS, SAYING: "Today we decide if we go forward with strength, security and confidence, or if we enter into adventures. In these elections there is an unprecedented number of citizens who are still undecided. They will decide the result. I'm optimistic because I believe that no-one wants to risk the European course of our country. We will win!" Leaders of a handful of smaller parties also cast their votes. While Syriza is widely expected to get the most votes, it may not get enough to govern alone -- meaning some them could have a vital role to play. Most voters seemed eager for a change... (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) VOTER, BYRON FASOULAS, SAYING: "As a country, we have reached the bottom of the barrel, I will vote so that things can improve in Greece. Our children's future is the most important of all because our future is already lost." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) VASILIKI ROUKOULA, SAYING: "I hope for the best for the country and my criteria are that we need things to change." Europe and the world watches as today's results decide what form that change takes -- and what it means for the future.