Greeks vote in 1st parliamentary election since bailout end

Greeks vote in 1st parliamentary election since bailout end
FILE - In this July 4, 2019, file photo, Greek opposition New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks during his main election campaign rally in Athens. Greece holds a general election Sunday, called three months early by left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after he suffered a stinging defeat in European Parliament elections in May to conservative rivals who appear to be strengthening their position according to recent opinion polls. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greeks have begun voting in the first parliamentary election since their country emerged from three successive international bailouts.

The vote is held three months earlier than originally planned after left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saw his support erode during European elections.

Opinion polls suggest Greeks are set to defy the recent European trend of increasing support for populist parties, with conservative opposition party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis a clear favorite to win.

Sunday’s vote comes as the country gradually emerges from a brutal nearly decade-long financial crisis that saw unemployment and poverty levels skyrocket, and Greece’s economy slashed by a quarter.

Greece was dependent for survival until last summer on international bailouts, and had to impose deep reforms, including massive spending cuts and tax hikes, to qualify for the rescue loans.