Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has called the early vote confident his economic record would secure an easy win but a slow response to summer forest fires that killed 65 people and a series of scandals have hurt his chances.

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The election pits Karamanlis against socialist leader Andreas Papandreou, both heirs to prominent political dynasties but opinion polls suggest neither may win an outright majority with voters defecting to smaller parties.

Struggle for survival

Villagers in the coastal town of Makistos in the fire-ravaged Peloponnese say they are more concerned with survival than politics.

"There is the question of survival for people living here," says resident Dimitra Pothou.

“They still have no water or electricity, and around 30 families in the area need to stay in container homes."

Disaffected voters

"People here are exhausted, they don't care about the elections," adds Yiannis Pothos, a 19-year-old student, standing in front of his family's gutted 19th-century stone home which had only been renovated last year.

"There is dissatisfaction with all political parties, and there will be a high amount of absentee voters."

"I don't think anybody has elections on their mind, they're all preoccupied with the misfortune that befell us," says Pantazis Chronopoulos, the mayor of neighbouring town Zacharo.

Opportunities for small parties

The right wing LA.O.S. party is expected to enter parliament for the first time and could end up as one of the power brokers.

Mr Papandreou's socialists have appeared unable to capitalise on the government's woes and trail the conservatives in opinion polls, although the gap between them has narrowed.

Mr Karamanlis says he would rather call a new election than form an uneasy coalition while Mr Papandreou has not ruled out cooperating with smaller parties.

"To move forward this country needs a government which can take swift and bold decisions on changes and reforms," Mr Karamanlis says.

If the vote is undecided and attempts for a coalition fail, Greece faces new elections.

Fires to impact Greek voters