Greece is on the edge of chaos.
The election is being contested by seven parties, from Nazis to Communists. Only two parties actually have a chance of coming out on top, and the difference could not be more stark. Greek elections work on the basis that whichever party receives the most votes gets an extra 50 seat top-up (out of a Parliament of 300), so coming a close second would be a disaster for either party. Who are the contenders?
New Democracy of the centre-right are one of the groups most responsible for pushing Greece into the economic crisis it now finds itself in. After cooking the books and shameless corruption they have since made a return to Government in coalition. They support the bailout and staying in the Euro, imposing austerity in the short-term to reduce the structural deficit.
Syriza is a far-Left self-described radical coalition. Lacking coherent ideology, the tactic of its leaders seems to be to just stomp their feet and deploy their Leftist thugs to riot and endanger lives in the streets of Athens. Wearing a suit and making an incoherent argument about being against the bailout but in favour of Euro membership, they have persuaded many Greeks that they are the vehicle for protest. Make no mistake, their platform, lack of professionalism and radical agenda would be a disaster for Greece.
Strict laws regarding polling around an election mean that there is no hard evidence indicating who is currently ahead. Some commentators have suggested support for the anti-bailout parties (which includes actual Communists as well as the Nazi Golden Dawn) has weakened slightly in the face of the potential catastrophy which is an exit from the Euro. The best guess is it is neck and neck between New Democracy and Syriza. Much depends in fact on what happens with PASOK voters, the Left-of-Centre pro-bailout party that until recently was running the government. PASOK should arguably not even be competing in this election, but rather directing their voters into the arms of New Democracy. That is not to suggest New Democracy are the long-term solution for Greece, but everything possible must be done to prevent the nightmare scenario that is Syriza.
Every single person of voting age needs to understand what is at stake. Every single person must understand how close Greece is to chaos. Should Syriza come out ahead in the poll on Sunday, it will be the end of Greece as we know it. Her default and exit from the Euro and European Union will be unavoidable. The further collapse of the Greek economy, asset flight and hit to the standard of living will be catastrophic. The violence, rioting and extremism Greece has witnessed almost without end since the collapse of the economy will escalate and endanger the very survival of the state.
The fundamental problem with Greece has always been a tolerated extremism and wilful disregard for the non-Europeanised nature of the country. From the civilization that gave us democracy and modern philosophy, that played such an integral role in shaping modern Europe, for too long it has been accepted that extremists should exist and be listened to, and that Greece could pretend to be an EU country when it was anything but.
On Sunday, the Greek people do not have a choice of what kind of country they wish to have, they have the decision of whether they want a country at all. For someone with deep family connections to Greece and personal fondness for so many people who live there it is a dispiriting situation, but one that is fast crossing into a state of affairs from which to rescue will be possible. The Greeks have had their tantrum now in voting for the Nazis and Communists, and there are those who will never look at the country in the same way as a result, but now is the time to stand up and be counted. A vote for anyone other than New Democracy on Sunday will be the end of the country as they know it.
Syriza would usher in an era of economic depression, democratic repression and social conflict from which Greece would not recover. This is how democracy dies, to the sound of thunderous applause.