October 18, 2014 / 12:06 PM / in 3 years

Greece's anti-bailout party still leads conservatives in latest poll

Greece's main opposition Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras addresses lawmakers before a confidence vote for the country's coalition government in Athens October 10, 2014. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s radical leftist Syriza party would beat Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy party if an election were held now, but its lead has slipped, an opinion poll showed on Saturday.

Syriza is deeply opposed to an international bailout that has allowed Greece to avoid a debt default in return for a package of tough austerity measures and economic reform.

A Metron Analysis survey for Parapolitika newspaper said support for Syriza was running at 32.9 percent against 26.1 percent for New Democracy and 4.7 percent for the Socialist PASOK party, which is in Samaras’ coalition government.

A previous Oct. 6-8 poll showed backing for Syriza at 34.1 percent, while New Democracy was at 26.2 percent.

Most recent surveys have suggested that if elections were held now, there would be no outright winner.

The latest survey was carried out after Samaras won an Oct. 10 confidence vote in parliament that he had called in an effort to quell talk of early elections.

However, many political analysts believe Samaras will not be able to garner sufficient backing early next year when parliament has to vote for a new president.

Saturday’s poll said about 60 percent of those questioned believed Samaras would not secure enough votes for his presidential nominee, while half said they were against snap elections.

Failure to pick a head of state would automatically trigger national elections.

Samaras, looking to bolster his support at home, has said he wants to pull Greece out of its bailout program by the end of December -- a year ahead of schedule.

Another poll by Kapa Research published in weekly To Vima paper showed support for Syriza was 27.4 percent versus 23.5 percent for New Democracy. About 50 percent of those polled approved the government’s plan to exit the bailout, while 39 percent wanted Greece to stick to the original timetable.

Worries over Greece’s plans for an early pullout sparked a major sell-off of Greek bonds and stock last week, with investors concerned over its ability to fund itself thereafter.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Samaras said Greece could overcome the market turmoil and predicted that parliament would reach the end of its term in June 2016.

Samaras has blamed Syriza party for stoking instability and prompting the market turmoil. But Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras fired back on Saturday, saying the markets would not calm down until Greece found a viable solution for its debt woes.

“Markets are playing their own games,” Tsipras said in a speech to party members. “And we know that only after a substantial debt relief will the markets stop being hostile.”

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Stephen Powell

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