New Democracy leads in election polls in Greece

IN THE BALANCE::New Democracy is conservative and pro-bailout, while anti-bailout Syriza is second in the latest polls, with 82.4% wanting to stay in the eurozone

AFP, ATHENS

Mon, May 28, 2012 - Page 6

Greek pro-bailout conservative party New Democracy is favorite to secure most seats in the June 17 general elections, but without an outright majority, a series of opinion polls showed yesterday.

The new polls predict a New Democracy victory ranging between 23.3 percent and 25.8 percent, a result that would require the party to seek additional allies to form a viable government.

Radical left party Syriza, which rejects the austerity measures that Athens agreed to in return for a second EU-IMF debt rescue package, comes in at second place in the pre-vote polls ahead of the Pasok socialists, who also back the bailout agreement.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras set two conditions when asked in an interview with whom he would be willing to form a coalition government if his party emerges in first place.

“With whoever accepts two basic matters: change in the loan agreement and to remain in the euro,” Samaras said in an interview to Real News yesterday.

The conservative leader said that he would not rule out cooperating with Syriza head Alexis Tsipras if he agrees to these conditions.

The opinion polls were carried out by MRB, Pulse RC, Alco, Marc and Kapa Research for newspapers Real News, Typos tis Kyriakis, Proto Thema, Ethnos and To Vima respectively.

The Marc poll, which was carried out on 1,075 households on May 22 to May 24, also showed that 82.4 percent of the Greeks wish to stay in the eurozone.

New Democracy would garnish 121 to 123 places in the 300-seat parliament and Syriza 66 to 68, according to the Alco opinion poll of 1,000 adults conducted between May 20 and May 25.

In the MRB poll, 17.2 percent of those surveyed judged Antonis Samaras, the “most suitable” person to lead the country, against 16.3 percent for Alexis Tsipras.

Fed up with two years of salary and pension cuts, Greek voters on May 6 punished larger parties associated with the bailout and catapulted Syriza to second place, piling pressure on Samaras to reinvigorate his party.

No party was able to form a coalition as a result of that election, forcing the re-run vote next month.

The neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which won nearly 7 percent of the vote on May 6, is likely to see a dip in support according to the opinion polls, while retaining enough of the vote to hold on to its newly won presence in parliament.

Greece in 2010 committed itself to a reform program in return for hundreds of billions of euros in bailout funds from the EU and the IMF to prevent a disorderly default.

However, many of the reforms promised in exchange are currently in limbo as Greece awaits the results of the June 17 elections.