Anti-bailout Syriza ahead in Greek poll

Wed, May 30, 2012, 01:00

Greece's radical leftist Syriza party has taken the lead over the pro-bailout conservatives, a poll showed today, ahead of a national parliamentary election next month that may determine whether the debt-laden country stays in the euro zone.

The poll by VPRC for Epikaira magazine showed Syriza gaining 30 per cent if elections were held now, while support for the conservative New Democracy party stood at 26.5 per cent.

A previous VPRC poll last week showed Syriza at 28.5 per cent and New Democracy at 26 per cent. Since then, most polls showed New Democracy ahead.

The European Union turned up pressure on Greece today, warning it must step up reforms to keep getting full bailout aid and that the date of its next inspection visit to Athens will depend on the outcome of a general election on June 17th.

Greece is anxiously awaiting the visit by the "troika" of EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank officials, which will decide on unlocking more bailout funds.

The date of their inspection has been provisionally set for late June or early July, but the EU executive raised the prospect of it being delayed further if the election failed to produce a suitable coalition government.

"The date of the next review mission ... depends on the political outcome of the repeated elections," the European Commission said in a report today.

"The mission is provisionally scheduled to take place in late June/early July 2012, but the date may be revised in the course of the following weeks.

"The European Commission made it clear in the report that the continuation of an international aid programme was contingent upon Athens pushing ahead with difficult reforms and on the formation of a government ready to honour the country's debt-reduction pledges.

"Implementation risks will remain very high," the report said. "Comprehensive international financial assistance can continue to be provided only if policy implementation improves."

The repeat election was called earlier this month after a May poll resulted in political deadlock between parties that support and oppose the €130 billion rescue package Greece obtained in exchange for enacting tough austerity measures.

Reuters