Greece: Poll boosts 'austerity' politicians

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The Independent Online

Less than a day after taking office, Greece's new caretaker government was faced with yet another credit downgrade as Fitch that warned Athens of a "probable" exit from the eurozone if pro-bailout parties failed to win new elections due on 17 June.

And it appears that Greeks might be taking this message on board. A new poll yesterday indicated that politicians backing austerity – a necessary condition of the rescue package – would secure up to a 167-seat majority in the new Parliament with the conservative New Democracy party maintaining its lead over Syriza, a left-wing party whose leader has vowed to stop the country's painful public sector cuts.

The poll, conducted for Alpha TV, predicts New Democracy would gain up 123 seats in the 300-member legislative assembly, leaving left-wing Syriza with 66 seats and Socialists Pasok 41. The findings will calm nervous European leaders and financial markets that panicked after an anti-austerity sentiment prevailed in the hung parliament after the 6 May election.

However, as the country embarks on the new campaign some newspapers were left doubtful over the accuracy of the poll. "Elevator polls" read the headline of centre-left daily Ethnos. Political leaders are only just starting to forge alliances with smaller parties in the hope of forming a coalition.

As experts warn of the catastrophic consequences a potential Greek exit from the single currency could have on the rest of the Continent and the world, European leaders have toned down their threatening rhetoric against Athens.

Earlier this week Chancellor Angela Merkel signalled her will to keep Greece within the euro and held a held a "confidential" telephone call with Greek president Karolos Papoulias yesterday.

In the latest reconciliatory signal towards Greece, the president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, visited Athens.