ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s main leftist opposition Syriza party has widened its lead over the conservatives in the ruling coalition, polls showed on Saturday, amid rising speculation that the selection of a new president of state may lead to early elections.
The pick of a new president in early 2015 has muddied Greece’s political scene and could lead to snap polls before the government’s term ends in 2016, given the opposition’s pledge to block any candidate proposed by the government.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ ruling coalition, with 154 deputies in the 300-seat parliament, has downplayed early elections talk but will need the backing of at least 180 lawmakers to select a president, support he is not guaranteed.
One poll by MRB Hellas for weekly newspaper Realnews found the anti-austerity Syriza party would get 30 percent of the vote if elections were held now, giving it a 4.7 percentage-point lead over Samaras’s New Democracy conservatives.
Syriza had a 2.1 percentage points lead in an MRB poll in July.
The new poll showed 52.2 percent of Greeks do not want snap elections. It put support for the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the once mighty Pasok socialists, at 5.3 percent, ranking it sixth.
The far-right Golden Dawn party, whose leader and senior lawmakers are in jail on charges of belonging to a criminal organization after the killing of an anti-fascism rapper last year, remains the third most popular party with 8.5 percent.
Another survey by pollster ALCO for Proto Thema newspaper showed the radical leftist Syriza leading with 28 percent versus 23.8 percent for Samaras’s New Democracy conservatives.
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by David Gregorio