OPINION

A guide to Greek elections

Greek voters go to the polls on Jan. 25 in a general election that will decide whether Europe’s most-indebted country sticks to the economic-overhaul program set out by its troika of official creditors or tries to chart its own course.

This is a guide to the rules governing the voting and the process of forming a government afterward.

— Voting begins at 7 a.m. on Sunday and finishes at 7 p.m. local time. A total of 9.8 million citizens are eligible to cast ballots, with more than a third of them concentrated in the Attica metropolitan region, which includes the city of Athens.

— Exit polls will be published at the close of voting. There will be an initial estimate of the result based on ballots counted at about 9:30 p.m and a more accurate estimate before midnight. The vote count will be available on the Interior Ministry’s website: http://ekloges.ypes.gr/.

— Twenty-two parties are standing for election. They need at least 3 percent of the vote to win seats in the next parliament and polls indicate that as many as seven will pass that threshold. Lawmakers are allocated proportionately among the parties that reach the cutoff and the group with most votes gets an extra 50 seats.

— Once sworn in, the new prime minister will have 15 days to win a confidence vote requiring 151 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament. Recent polls suggest neither SYRIZA nor New Democracy will be able to do that on their own.

— If no single party has an absolute majority, the president of the republic gives the leader of the party with the most votes three days to form a government. If he fails, the three-day mandate is handed to the leader of the second-biggest party, and finally to the leader of the third party.

— If no one can form an administration, the president will ask party leaders to form a unity government. If that doesn’t work, as happened in 2012, all parliamentary groups will be asked to join an interim government to prepare fresh elections. And if that fails the job of organizing a new vote falls to either the head of the Council of State or the Supreme Court. [Bloomberg]