January 22, 2015 / 4:38 PM / 3 years ago

Greece's Syriza party widens lead as election looms, polls show

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s anti-bailout party, Syriza, has widened its lead over the ruling conservatives, two surveys showed on Thursday, with just over a day of campaigning left before a national election.

Opposition leader and head of radical leftist Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras addresses supporters during a campaign in central Athens, January 22, 2015. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

A poll by Metron Analysis to be published on Friday showed Syriza’s lead over the New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras growing to 5.3 points from 4.6 points in a previous survey.

Syriza would take 36 percent of the vote, compared with 30.7 percent for Samaras’s conservatives, who have pushed through unpopular reforms as part of an EU/IMF bailout.

A second poll, by Rass, showed Syriza leading New Democracy by 4.8 points, up from 4.2 points in a survey published on Wednesday.

Greece’s election is being closely watched by financial markets. A victory for Syriza, which wants to renegotiate a chunk of Greek debt and end austerity measures, could trigger a standoff with European Union and IMF lenders and push the country close to bankruptcy or to an exit from the euro zone.

Both polls had the centrist party To Potami (River) in third place, putting it on track to become kingmaker if voters deliver a hung parliament.

Under Greek electoral law, parties must secure 3 percent of the vote to enter the 300-seat parliament. The biggest party automatically gets a 50-seat bonus. The level required to win outright depends on the share of the vote taken by parties that fail to cross the threshold.

Campaigning is due to end tomorrow. The head of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, is scheduled to hold a major rally in Athens on Thursday night. Samaras holds his final pre-election rally on Friday. The vote will be held on Sunday.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Costas Pitas

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