ATHENS-Greek leaders presented their goals during a highly charged televised debate Monday night, in advance of the Sept. 20 general election for prime minister. The election was forced when former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned in August, trying to quell a rebellion and win a stronger mandate to push through tax hikes and spending cuts agreed under the €86 billion ($97.3 billion) bailout he initially opposed.
With Sunday's national ballot looming, the marathon event was an opportunity for voters to draw more conclusions about the candidates' positions. The spotlight was on the top two contenders: Former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of the Syriza party, and Evangelos Meimarakis, who heads the conservative New Democracy (ND) party.
They have been neck-and-neck in the polls for several weeks, casting doubt on whether a stable government will emerge from an election if neither can win outright. Yesterday's poll by ANT1-TV showed a draw with both Syriza and ND garnering 24.6 percent of voters.
More than 4 million people watched the debate, but early public reaction does not show that either candidate won.