Jitters as Greek repeat poll nears
Greece's conservative New Democracy party at the weekend regained an opinion poll lead that would, if it were to win the repeat elections on June 17, allow the formation of a pro-bailout government committed to keeping the country in the eurozone, a batch of new surveys has shown.
Greece was forced to call another poll after a May 6 vote left parliament evenly divided between groups of parties that supported and opposed the austerity conditions attached to a à130-billion bailout agreed with the EU and IMF in March.
Polls showed pro- and anti-bailout parties running neck-and-neck ahead of the vote.
Five polls published in the weekend press showed New Democracy with a lead of between 0.5 and 5.7 points over the anti-bailout leftist Syriza party, though analysts said the race was still too close to call.
Syriza has said it will ditch the country's bailout deal that has led to record unemployment and severe wage cuts.
But Germany and other lenders have said they will cut the country's funding if it were to take such a step. That would lead to bankruptcy and possibly force Greece to leave the eurozone.
New Democracy would get between 25.6% and 27.7% of the vote if the election were to be held today, according to the polls, while Syriza's support would be between 20.1% and 26%.
According to the Pulse and Marc polls, New Democracy and the next-biggest pro-bailout party - the socialist Pasok - would together win a parliamentary majority of between 11 and 16 seats in the country's 300-seat parliament.
The new figures came after conservative leader Antonis Samaras launched a scathing attack on Syriza, accusing it of flirting with disaster by promising voters that Greece could ditch the bailout without risking an exit from the eurozone.
"If Greece unilaterally rejects the bailout deal, it will be isolated for years ... It will have no food, no drugs, no fuel. It will have to live with permanent power cuts," Samaras said.
Syriza reiterated its opposition .
"[The bailout] will mean new wage and pension cuts, new public- sector firings, soaring unemployment and shuttered shops," it said.
It said wanted Greece to keep the euro but drop the austerity policies associated with the bailout - a position shared by most Greeks, according to one of the polls.
About 65% of respondents in one of the surveys said the country should "negotiate hard" to revise the bailout's terms, while 54% believed there was no way Athens could leave the eurozone. A total of 82% said the country should keep the single currency.
IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Greeks had to take responsibility for their fate.
"I think they should help themselves collectively ... by all paying their tax," she said in a newspaper interview.