Most Greeks want to see the terms of an international financial rescue revised even as they acknowledge that not abiding by austerity measures required for the funds may lead to the country leaving the single currency, according to an opinion poll conducted weeks before a second general election on June 17.
Almost eight in 10, or 77 percent, of the 1,600 Greeks surveyed by GPO SA pollsters for the survey broadcast on Athens-based Mega TV said the terms of the bailout should be revised. More than half, or 52.4 percent, said they should stay in the euro if they were forced to accept the current austerity measures accompanying the bailout while 44.5 percent said they shouldn’t. Most Greeks, or 81 percent, said they wanted to remain in the single currency.
The survey was the latest in a spate of polls to show that the June 17 election may still cast doubt on Greece’s place in the euro area. While the New Democracy party, which supported the international rescue of the country earlier in the year in return for austerity measures, placed ahead of anti-bailout party Syriza, the difference between the two parties remained small.
New Democracy had 23.4 percent support compared with Syriza with 22.1 percent, according to the survey. The margin of error is 2.6 percentage points. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras advocates unilaterally canceling the austerity measures demanded for the bailout, with an agenda of re-negotiating the terms of the rescue.
The cuts required for 240 billion euros ($300 billion) of aid have driven the country into the worst recession since World War II. Polls since the inconclusive May 6 vote have shown Syriza challenging the New Democracy party for first place. Both parties would still need to team up with others to form a majority and govern, running the risk of the country running out of money as soon as early July. International inspectors won’t visit Greece for a review that allows funds to be paid until a government is formed.
Socialist Pasok, which also supported the bailout in an interim government with New Democracy earlier this year, had 13.5 percent support, the poll showed. The GPO poll showed Greeks divided on whether they would leave the euro area, with 48 percent saying there was a low possibility compared with 45 percent saying the possibility was high.
A third of those surveyed said New Democracy was ready to take over government of the country, compared with 16 percent who said Syriza was. More than half of respondents, or 57 percent, said they believed New Democracy would win the elections. Greece’s exit from the euro currency would lead to an immediate and significant drop in living standards for Greeks, National Bank of Greece SA, the country’s biggest bank, said in a report published yesterday.
Per-capita income would drop by at least 55 percent in euro terms as a new currency would depreciate by about 65 percent, according to the report, e-mailed from the bank. The recession would deepen by about 22 percent at stable prices, adding to the 14 percent recorded in the 2009 to 2011 period, National Bank said, while unemployment would jump to 34 percent and inflation rise to above 30 percent, pushed up by the higher cost of imported goods.
(source: Mega TV, Bloomberg)