Rradical leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras
Opposition leader and head of radical leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras waves at supporters during a campaign rally in central Athens.Reuters

Some 9.8 million voters are heading to the polls in Greece on Sunday in an election which could have huge implications for the Euro project and the European Union.

Poverty and Suicide on the Rise
People wait to receive food at a soup kitchen from a group called "O Allos Anthropos", or "The Fellow Man", in AthensReuters

Favourites to win the election in the world's first democracy are the far-left Syriza Party led by Alexis Tsipras, who says he will seek an end to the austerity measures which have pushed many Greeks into enormous hardship. Around 32% of Greeks are living below the poverty line and one in five are unable to afford basic food needs. Homelessness and unemployment are rife.

Motorbike fan Tsipras, 40, who has promised to restore the "dignity of the Greek people," wants to renegotiate the terms of debt repayments to the European Union. Writing in German newspaper Handelsblatt Tsipras said: "The truth is that Greece's debt cannot be repaid as long as our economy is subjected to constant fiscal water-boarding."

However some economists are worried any renegotiation or default may force the country to leave the Euro, potentially creating a domino effect in other debt-ridden countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Golden Dawn
Leader of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party Nikolaos Mihaloliakos gestures to supporters before a distributions of goods to "Greeks only" at their Athens officesReuters

Tsipras insists he has no intention of bringing about a Greek Exit or "Grexit" and simply wants repayments to be made smaller to allow the Greek economy time to get back on its feet. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she wants Greece to remain within the Euro zone if the Syriza party wins.

Although Syriza's anti-austerity message seems to be proving popular in the country, the party is not predicted to win enough seats for an overall majority. That could force it into a coalition with other parties such as the Potami (River) party or the Independent Greeks, who also want austerity to end but disagree with the Syriza party about most other policies.

One party that Tsipras seems unlikely to wish to form a government with is the Golden Dawn party, which is inspired by the Nazis. Many of their leading figures are in prison awaiting trial for being members of a criminal organisation.

Some experts on Greek politics have even raised the spectre of parties having to visit Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos in prison to help form a new government – an outcome thought unlikely but not impossible.