Greece made a dramatic political "volte-face" on Sunday with a landslide victory by center-right New Democracy (ND) party and its leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, over incumbent SYRIZA, ending the first-ever leftist administration after four-and-a-half years in power and sending a once firebrand Alexis Tsipras to the opposition.
The first exit poll results announced by private television stations seconds after election precincts closed at 7 p.m. (17.00 GMT) showed ND with a commanding lead of between 42 to 38 percent to SYRIZA's 30.5 to 26.5 percent. If the forecast is confirmed with subsequent results from the ballot boxes in a couple of hours, then the pro-reform and pro-market Mitsotakis will field a comfortable majority of deputies in Greece's 300-deputy Parliament.
For Tsipras, the defeat marks his third in 2019, after disappointing results in the May 26 European Parliament election and two consecutive Sundays of local government races in late May and early June. SYRIZA's second-place showing in the former and failure to elect but a handful of candidates in municipal and regional races forced the outgoing premier to declare a snap election on July 7.
The result comes almost four years to the date when Tsipras, SYRIZA and the sum total of Greece's anti-bailout and anti-austerity bloc celebrated a massive "No" result (61.31 percent) in a controversial referendum held on July 5 over creditors' - previously withdrawn - terms.
Initial exit poll results also show between five to seven parties entering Greece's Parliament, meaning they polled above 3 percent of the general vote (of valid ballots cast).