Greek exit poll shows leftist Tsipras with edge in tight vote

Voting has ended in Greece and a key exit poll shows the leftist party of former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leading its main conservative rival.

But the poll, taken jointly by five television stations Sunday, shows Tsipras’ Syriza party falling short of an absolute majority needed to form a government.

The Syriza party was projected to win between 30 and 34 percent of the vote, with the conservative New Democracy Party winning between 28 and 32.5 percent.  A second exit survey, also announced shortly after polls closed, predicted a similar outcome.

Sunday’s vote – the third national election in Greece this year – was triggered when Tsipras resigned last month, barely seven months after Syriza swept to power vowing to renegotiate harsh austerity measures imposed by European creditors in exchange for billions of dollars of bailout loans.

Despite his pledge — and a July referendum in which Greek voters rejected those European demands — Tsipras last month accepted lenders’ terms for a third bailout package worth $98 billion.

New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis has since accused Tsipras of incompetence in brokering the deal.