Athens: Greece's outgoing leftwing prime minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday declared he was confident of winning a second mandate for a "fighting government" to reform and revive the crisis-hit nation's economy, as voters cast ballots in a knife-edge race.
With voting underway under sunny skies in a tight race between Tsipras' Syriza party and the conservatives, the boyish leftwinger said: "The Greek people... will take their future into their own hands... and seal the transition to a new era."
After a tumultuous seven months in office, 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.
The 41-year-old, who cast his ballot in the Athens working-class district of Kypseli, faces a strong challenge from the conservative New Democracy party led by ex-defence minister Vangelis Meimarakis, with eve-of-election polls giving Tsipras a slight edge.
Greek voters will elect "a fighting government" ready for the "confrontations necessary to move forward with reforms", said Tsipras, who in July agreed more punishing austerity for the nation in exchange for its third financial rescue in five years.
Over eight hours into the vote, the turnout seemed lower than the last election. Ballots close at 1600 GMT, when exit polls will be released, with first official results after 1800 GMT.
Casting his vote, 61-year-old Meimarakis, a bushy eye-browed former defence minister who has campaigned largely against the instability of the seven-month Tsipras government, said: "Voters want to send away ... the lies, the misery, the posers and bring truth and real people."
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.
Tsipras, who was elected in January on an anti-austerity platform, angered many in Greece by agreeing the deal for a new 86-billion-euro international rescue.
"Greeks wanted to try out Syriza but saw the results, they're a bunch of liars," 58-year-old conservative voter Marika Geraki told AFP.