Polls show gains for mainstream parties in Greece

Opinion polls have indicated that Greece's second election in just over a month will result in no single party gaining a majority in parliament, but two pro-austerity mainstream parties could form a coalition government.

Opinion polls have indicated that Greece's second election in just over a month will result in no single party gaining a majority in parliament, but two pro-austerity mainstream parties could form a coalition government.

Three weeks before Greece goes to the polls on June 17, the four surveys show Greek voters, tired of more than two years of austerity that have seen salaries and pensions slashed and new taxes imposed, nonetheless want to keep the euro and not revert to its own currency, the drachma.

The polls, published in the To Vima, Real News, Proto Thema and Eleftheros Typos newspapers, indicate that pro-bailout New Democracy party and anti-bailout Syriza would probably finish first and second again, but that New Democracy would win more seats in parliament than it did during the May 6 national election. That would allow it to team up with socialist Pasok party in a governing coalition.

Voters angry at austerity measures had given both the conservatives and socialists a drubbing on May 6, dropping them to historical lows.

The socialists, winners of the previous election in 2009 dropped from 43.9% to 13.2% of the vote and third place, while the conservatives won, but saw their vote drop from 33.5% to 18.9%.

Syriza, the main beneficiary of the protest vote, jumped from fifth place and 4.6% in 2009 to second and 16.7%.

The polls show New Democracy ahead of Syriza from 0.5 to 5.7%, reversing a trend in recent opinion polls in which Syriza was seen as the front-runner. Both New Democracy and Syriza are expected to poll well above 20% while the third-place socialists are halting their slide and smaller parties are squeezed.

The polls also estimate that New Democracy and the socialists will have a combined 159 to 165 seats in the 300-member parliament, up from 149 in the outgoing one, allowing them to form a pro-bailout, pro-austerity government. They could conceivably be joined by the Democratic Left, which is projected to elect from 13 to 16 deputies, down from 19.

All three parties want a partial renegotiation of the bailout deal to boost economic growth, while Syriza has called for immediate repudiation.

In the tracking poll published in To Vima, more than 65% of respondents said they would vote to keep Greece in the euro, while only 25% said they would vote to get out of the bailout agreement.

The same number (65%) replied that Greece must remain in the eurozone even if it has to implement the bailout agreement as it stands, while 24% said they would prefer to exit the euro rather than implement austerity policies.

Debt-mired Greece has been kept solvent since May 2010 through generous loans from its European Union partners and the International Monetary Fund. A first bailout package of 110 billion euros was agreed in May 2010 and a second, 130 billion-euro deal was approved in March 2012.

A separate deal with private creditors earlier this year allowed Greece to write nearly 107 billion euros off the country's 368 billion-euro debt as holders of Greek bonds took a hit.

Three of the polls questioned about 1,000 people and the Eleftheros Typos 1,212.

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