As Greece’s major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras has been making a U.S. swing to pitch his cause, his party has slipped again in polls that show the New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras opening their lead.
Three opinion polls show Samaras has gained in strength after forcing a $17.45 billion spending cut and tax hike plan through Parliament which secured a new series of $69 billion in rescue monies as part of a second bailout of $173 billion.
New Democracy gained on growing optimism that the deals have kept Greece in the Eurozone. Tsipras, who said he would renege on the agreements with the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) Troika putting up the bailouts, has softened his stance to ask for a revision, and call for a European summit on the attached austerity measures.
A survey conducted by MRB pollsters for Sunday newspaper Real News showed that if elections were held now Samaras’s New Democracy party would get 29.2 percent versus 27.8 percent for SYRIZA. The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party solidified its third-place standing with 11.6 percent while the PASOK Socialists, one of Samaras’ coalition partners, was at a bleak 7 percent in the January 22-24 poll.
For months New Democracy trailed SYRIZA but has pulled ahead on the back of the new deal that ended, at least for now, uncertainty over Greece’s future in the Eurozone although many analysts say the government can’t repay the loans and hasn’t eliminated the prospect of default.
“There is an increase in the number of people who believe that we must stay in the Eurozone and stick to our commitments because there is no other way out,” said MRB’s Dimitris Mavros, according to Reuters news agency.
MRB said that for the first time since the Greek crisis broke out a majority of Greeks – 60 percent – said they believed the country would not go bankrupt and more than 75 percent said they expected Greece to stay in the Eurozone, but as many as 83 percent expected more austerity measures, although Samaras has vowed he won’t impose any more pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions.
Another survey conducted by Alco for newspaper Proto Thema in the same period showed New Democracy moving into first place for the first time since national polls in June. If elections were held now it would get 24.9 percent versus SYRIZA’s 23.4 percent, Alco showed.
Questions still remain over whether the coalition can continue to implement a reform program that has sent unemployment to the highest level in the European Union. Greeks fed up with waves of tax hikes and salary cuts have repeatedly taken to the streets in often violent protests and lashed out at politicians they hold responsible for the crisis. More than 62 percent polled by Alco said they could not afford to pay off their loans and their taxes.
But a Kapa Research survey for Sunday’s To Vima newspaper showed that 57.6 percent believe the government deserves more time against 28.9 percent who want early elections and the polls have consistently shown that Samaras is by far the choice of most Greeks to be Prime Minister over Tsipras.