Exit polls indicate that Greece's two principal parties, the conservative New Democracy (ND) and Socialist PASOK, have incurred big losses in popularity, suggesting that a formation of a coalition government dedicated to maintaining austerity is in great jeopardy.

ND has between 17 and 20 percent of the vote, placing it at the lead, but PASOK has done so poorly that it is in third place, behind SYRIZA, a coalition of left-wing parties.

SYRIZA has gained between 15.5 and 18.5 percent of the votes, with PASOK getting only between 14 and 17 percent.

  • A girl peers under a polling booth during Greek elections in Athens
    A girl peers under a polling booth during Greek elections in Athens Photo: Reuters
  • Alexis Tsipras, Greece, Syriza
    Head of Greece's Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, Alexis Tsipras exits a voting booth while casting his ballot at a polling station in Athens on Sunday. Angry Greek voters headed to the polls for an election shrouded in uncertainty that could reignite Europe's debt crisis and renew doubts about the country's future in the euro zone. Photo: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis
  • Golden Dawn Greece
    Leader of extreme-right Golden Dawn party Nikolaos Mihaloliakos Photo: Reuters

SYRIZA is vehemently opposed to the EU-IMF bailout deal which has placed Greece in a kind of financial paralysis.

By comparison, in the last election in 2009, PASOK gained 43.9 percent of the vote, while ND scored 33.5 percent.

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Moreover, the extreme right-wing, anti-immigration Golden Dawn Party has apparently won enough votes in Sunday's elections to enter Parliament for the first time, according to the Associated Press.

Golden Dawn, which seeks to deport illegal immigrants from Greece, needed at least 5 percent of the electorate, in order to have representation in parliament. The party received between 6 and 8 percent of the total poll.

Golden Dawn is opposed to the EU-IMF bailout, but does not currently want Greece seek to exit from the euro zone.

The party's principal focus is to expel all illegal immigrants from the county, and has even proposed placing landmines on the Turkish border to keep migrants out.

Partly leader Nikos Michaloliakos has said he thinks second-generation immigrants born in Greece should be allowed to stay in the county, but should not have the right to vote nor stand for political office.

In any case, the next government in Athens will have to form some kind of coalition among the top two parties, If such an agreement is not forthcoming, the country would have to stage another election, an event that the EU and IMF would frown upon.