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Greek pro-bailout conservatives regain lead: polls
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Greek pro-bailout conservatives regain lead: polls

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Greek pro-bailout conservatives regain lead: polls

(Reuters) - Greece's conservative New Democracy party has regained an opinion poll lead that would allow the formation of a pro-bailout government committed to keeping the country in the euro zone, a batch of new surveys showed on Saturday.

Greece was forced to call repeat elections for June 17 after a May 6 vote left parliament divided evenly between groups of parties that support and oppose the austerity conditions attached to a 130 billion euro bailout agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund in March.

Polls up to Saturday had showed pro- and anti-bailout parties running neck-and-neck ahead of the vote, which could determine the country's future in the single currency.

But the five new polls published in the country's weekend press showed New Democracy, which supports the bailout, gaining a lead of between 0.5 and 5.7 points over the anti-bailout leftist SYRIZA party.

SYRIZA has said it would ditch the country's bailout deal, that has led to record unemployment and severe wage cuts.

But the country's lenders such as Germany have warned that if the country took such a step, they would cut its funding. That would lead to a chaotic bankruptcy and possibly force the country to leave the euro.

New Democracy would get between 25.6 percent and 27.7 percent of the vote if the election was held today, according to the polls by Eleftheros Typos/Pulse, Proto Thema/Alco, Real News/MRB, To Vima/Kapa and Ethnos/MARC. SYRIZA was in a range of 20.1 and 26 percent.

According to the Pulse and MARC polls, New Democracy and the next-biggest pro-bailout party, the Socialist PASOK, would win combined a parliamentary majority of between 11 and 16 seats in the country's 300-seat parliament.

NO BAILOUT, NO GAS

The new readings came after conservative leaders Antonis Samaras launched a scathing attack on SYRIZA, accusing his rivals of flirting with disaster by promising voters that Greece can ditch the bailout without risking a chaotic exit from the euro.

"If Greece unilaterally rejects the bailout deal it will be isolated for years ... it will have no food, no drugs, no fuel. It will have to live with permanent power cuts," Samaras told party faithful in a rally.

Responding to Samaras, SYRIZA reiterated its opposition to the bailout. "It would mean new wage and pension cuts, new public sector firings, soaring unemployment and shuttered shops," the party said in a statement.

The failure of New Democracy and PASOK - who have together dominated Greek politics for decades - to win a pro-bailout majority on May 6, and the success of SYRIZA which came second, sent shockwaves through Europe.

Greek election rules give the party that comes first an automatic bonus of 50 seats in the 300-seat parliament, so even a slim advantage could play a decisive role in determining which party forms the next government.

Analysts said New Democracy's lead was precarious. "These polls show that people got scared from SYRIZA's lead in previous surveys," said political analyst John Loulis.

SYRIZA might find it easier to make inroads into the undecided voters, who are less likely to be swayed by fear from a euro exit, Loulis said.

"This is still a very tight race. New Democracy has a small advantage but whoever called them favorites would be dead wrong," Loulis added.

Polls since the May 6 election have shown SYRIZA, New Democracy and PASOK improving their performance at the expense of fringe parties. The share of undecided voters is also steadily declining.


Greek pro-bailout conservatives regain lead: polls | Reuters

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