Ruling Greek pro-bailout parties to win election: polls

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 20, 2012 5:30 AM
Ruling Greek pro-bailout parties to win election: polls

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's two ruling parties - the only major political entities that back the country's bailout deal with international lenders - have rebounded in the polls and would jointly win enough votes to renew their coalition, two new polls showed on Friday.

The surveys, which come just over two weeks before a May 6 election, suggest the ruling conservative New Democracy (ND) and Socialist PASOK parties have begun to claw back support despite public anger with austerity cuts.

One poll, by Marc for Ethnos, put support for ND at 21.9 percent or 108 seats, up from 17 percent in February, and backing for PASOK at 17.8 percent or 47 seats, up from 9.8 percent in February. It said 80 percent of voters were certain or pretty certain of the way they would vote.

If replicated in a real poll, the results would see the two parties jointly controlling 155 seats in the 300-strong assembly. A separate poll by Kappa Research for Ta Nea forecast they would win as many as 170 seats.

The polls comes at a time when Greeks are recoiling against harsh austerity measures proscribed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund as part of a bailout package that saved the country from bankruptcy.

Though support for the two parties has begun to rise as the election nears, their ratings remain close to historic lows and their joint tally - as forecast by Friday's polls - would fall well short of PASOK's 43.9 percent victory in October 2009, just before the debt crisis exploded.

The two have been sharing power in an uneasy coalition since November.

Eight other parties would pass the 3 percent threshold to enter parliament, the polls showed, including the extreme-right Golden Dawn party with 14 seats, as Greeks turn to fringe parties opposed to the international bailout. Only one other pro-bailout party, the small centre-right Democratic Alliance, was seen entering parliament, with up to 8 seats.

Political fragmentation could still complicate efforts to form a new stable coalition. In the past few weeks, previous polls have shown ND and PASOK hovering around the threshold needed to rule together, casting doubt over the future of the bailout deal that eased concerns over Europe's debt crisis.

New Democracy, which is consistently ahead in the polls, has also repeatedly said it wants to govern alone and threatened to trigger a repeat election.

Although many Greeks are fiercely opposed to the austerity measures they are being forced to endure and polls show they would broadly favor a coalition of leftist parties, most Greeks want their country to stay in the euro zone.

A poll by Kappa Research showed that 77.1 percent wants the new government to do whatever it takes to keep Greece in the euro.

After over two years of belt tightening, Greece is going through its worst recession since World War Two, with record unemployment and painful cuts in pensions and salaries.

(Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Osborn)