Support for Greek far-right party surging, poll says

ATHENS Thu Sep 6, 2012 3:26am EDT

Leader of the extreme right Golden Dawn party Nikolaos Mihaloliakos addresses parliamentarians during a session at the parliament in Athens July 7, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Leader of the extreme right Golden Dawn party Nikolaos Mihaloliakos addresses parliamentarians during a session at the parliament in Athens July 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party has increased its support among austerity-hit Greeks since entering parliament this year, and would emerge as the third largest party if elections were held now, a new poll showed on Thursday.

The extreme-right party, which wants to rid Greece of all foreigners including what it calls the "stench" of immigrants, has overtaken the once-mighty Socialists, the Pulse poll for the To Pontiki newspaper said.

Backing for Golden Dawn, which has been linked to a rise in attacks against migrants in recent months, stood at 10.5 percent, up nearly 4 percentage points since the June elections that gave the party a foothold in parliament.

The party's rabidly anti-immigrant message has struck a chord with a significant minority of Greeks as the country worries about a rise in crime and struggles through its worst post-war economic crisis, which has left nearly one in four jobless.

The poll showed support for the conservative New Democracy, which heads the country's pro-bailout coalition, had dipped to 25 percent from 29.7 percent in June, while backing for the radical leftist Syriza party also fell, by nearly 3 percentage points, to 24 percent.

The PASOK Socialists, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, dropped to fourth place with 8 percent of the vote, while the other government ally, Democratic Left, saw support shrink nearly 2 percentage points to 4.5 percent.

Greece's government is trying to push through a new round of deeply unpopular spending cuts worth nearly 12 billion euros for the next two years to appease its foreign lenders and secure the next tranche of aid to keep the country afloat.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas, Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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