Left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras marginally ahead in knife-edge Greek vote: exit poll

New Democracy conservative party supporters listen to the announcement of the exit polls after the Parliamentary elections, in Athens, Greece on Sunday.
New Democracy conservative party supporters listen to the announcement of the exit polls after the Parliamentary elections, in Athens, Greece on Sunday. PHOTO: EPA

ATHENS (AFP) - Former Greek left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras has a slight lead over his conservative rivals in the country's cliffhanger vote, exit polls showed Sunday.

The polls for the main five TV stations showed Mr Tsipras' party Syriza picking up between 30 and 34 per cent of the vote compared to between 28 to 32.5 percent for New Democracy, led by Vangelis Meimarakis.

In the race for third place, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is forecast to pick up between 6.5 and 8.0 percent of the vote, followed by socialists Pasok with 5.5 to 7.0 per cent.

Over 9.8 million Greeks were registered to vote for a new government which, whoever wins, will face the tough task of pushing through painful new tax rises and pension reforms agreed under a three-year bailout deal adopted across-the-board by parliament last month.

After a tumultuous seven months in office, Mr Tsipras resigned in August and called snap elections, gambling crisis-weary Greek would give him a strong mandate despite being forced to continue with austerity measures.