Leaders to watch in the Greek election

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Former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and leader of the left-wing Syriza party arrives for a live pre-election televised debate at the state-run ERT television in Athens, on September 14, 2015

Former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and leader of the left-wing Syriza party arrives for a live pre-election televised debate at the state-run ERT television in Athens, on September 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Louisa Gouliamaki)

Athens (AFP) - Two main contenders, three possible kingmakers and a late-night TV personality are the people to watch in Greece's snap elections on September 20, the fifth in six years.

- Alexis Tsipras -

Greece's youngest prime minister in 150 years, the 41-year-old learned some tough lessons on European politics in his seven-month stint in power which came to an abrupt end in August, when he resigned after his party's anti-euro hardliners jumped ship.

Boyish, charismatic Tsipras says he is wiser from the experience, and wants another chance from voters to mollify the austerity demanded in a new EU bailout he was forced to accept in July to keep the country in the eurozone.

The leftist leader has ruled out working with the New Democracy conservatives -- even though the public apparently favours a unity government -- and promises to continue the fight against corruption and poverty if rewarded with another four-year term.

- Evangelos Meimarakis -

An old-school conservative thrust into the limelight after his predecessor Antonis Samaras resigned the leadership of the New Democracy party, tough-talking lawyer Meimarakis has spent 41 of his 61 years in party politics.

Steering the party towards the centre, the mustachioed former defence minister and parliament speaker says a grand coalition is needed to save Greece, but has given voters no vision to root for, save a pledge to do things better than Tsipras.

His few concrete positions include favouring private investment, opposing bailout-mandated farmer tax hikes slated for October and calling for a harsher line on migration.

- Panagiotis Lafazanis -

The man who ended the premiership of his former comrade Tsipras, 63-year-old former communist Lafazanis has taken over many of Syriza's old slogans against austerity and domination by "dictator" EU-IMF creditors.

The bearded Lafazanis, an admirer of Vladimir Putin's Russia, says Greece's best chance for recovery is to leave the single currency, print its own money and become competitive through devaluation.

His Popular Unity party -- the name of Salvador Allende's alliance in Chile -- may barely exceed three percent of the vote, but even this could hamstring Tsipras' efforts to form a stable government.

- Stavros Theodorakis -

Formerly one of the country's best-known journalists, Theodorakis heads the pro-EU and pro-business party To Potami (The River), which aims to play kingmaker in the upcoming ballot.

A new-look party formed in 2014 and grounded in social media and volunteer work, To Potami has fielded some of Greece's most prestigious candidates, including a former European ombudsman.

Theodorakis has criticised Syriza's adventurism and New Democracy's nepotistic past, yet could end up working with either of them if a government cannot be formed otherwise.

- Fofi Gennimata -

The daughter of a prominent socialist, 50-year-old Gennimata in July took over a Pasok party that is now a mere shadow of the powerhouse that dominated Greek politics for three decades.

After getting the country into the first EU-IMF bailout under former leader George Papandreou, Pasok saw its reputation tarnished further when one of its founding members was jailed for money laundering and bribe-taking in 2013.

The campaign's sole woman, Gennimata too has called for unity to take Greece forward, and claims her party is no longer tainted by nepotism and embezzlement.

- Vassilis Leventis -

The campaign's surprise candidate, Leventis is a curmudgeonly 63-year-old who has spent the last 25 years on a late-night TV station, railing against the corruption of Greek politics and being bombarded with prank calls.

But after a dozen failed attempts at election, his Centrists Union party -- of which he is the only known member -- is now seen as a credible protest vote by many Greeks, perhaps enough to propel him into parliament for the first time.