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ATHENS (Reuters) - Support for Greece's co-ruling socialists is ticking up ahead of an election expected in May, though backing for the country's biggest parties remains low, an opinion poll showed on Saturday.

Greece is expected to hold the election on May 6 after a successful debt swap deal to cut its massive debt allowed it to secure a 130 billion euro bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund earlier this month.

Support for the bailout and the painful cuts included in it has sharply dented the approval ratings of the conservative New Democracy and PASOK socialists, the two parties backing technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.

The latest poll showed them getting about 38 percent of the vote together - a level analysts have said should allow them to just about scrape together enough seats in parliament to renew their coalition.

Backing for New Democracy dropped 2.5 percentage points to 22.5 percent, according to a Public Issue survey published in Kathimerini's Sunday edition.

Support for PASOK, whose cooperation New Democracy is expected to need to form the next government, rose 4.5 percentage points to 15.5 percent after former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos took over the party helm.

Independent Greeks, a new anti-austerity party founded by lawmaker Panos Kammenos who was expelled from New Democracy for opposing the bailout, scored 8.5 percent.

The Public Issue poll was conducted nationwide on March 22-26.

A total of eight parties would cross the 3 percent threshold to win parliamentary seats, according to the poll. Six of them are against the bailout, ranging from the extreme right Golden Dawn party to the KKE Communists.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas, editing by Deepa Babington)

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