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Bonds News

UPDATE 1-Most Greeks disapprove of EU/IMF aid deal - poll

* 60.9 pct oppose decision to ask for EU/IMF aid

* Only 31.9 pct say current government best to solve crisis

ATHENS, April 27 (Reuters) - A majority of Greeks disapprove of their government’s decision to ask for financial aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the first opinion poll taken since the request showed on Tuesday.

The survey showed increasing pressure on Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government, which has suffered a fall in voters’ trust in its ability to solve a debt crisis that has threatened Athens’s solvency and shaken the euro.

After weeks of resisting outside help despite investors pushing borrowing costs to record highs, Papandreou bowed to market pressure on Friday and asked for Greece’s euro zone partners and the IMF to activate the package.

Of 1,400 people surveyed, 60.9 percent said they were against the government’s decision, according to the poll by Greek Public Opinion (GPO) for Mega TV.

The poll showed support for Papandreou personally stayed high at 50.8 percent, only slightly lower than a GPO poll in March that showed his popularity at 52 percent.

His PASOK party’s support dipped slightly, falling to 30.6 percent, from 31.8 in March, when the government introduced austerity measures including public wage cuts, a pension freeze and tax hikes. Its conservative New Democracy rivals were virtually unchanged from March at 21 percent.

But the survey showed only 31.9 percent of respondents thought the PASOK government should stay in power to solve the crisis, while 31 percent were in favour of a coalition between PASOK, New Democracy and a far right party.

PROTEST PRONE

The aid, involving an estimated 45 billion euros in the first year, is the largest bailout ever attempted and the first for a euro zone member.

Many Greeks fear austerity measures tied to the funding will hit living standards and raise tensions in a country prone to protests.

More than two-thirds, or 67.4 percent, thought the current situation could lead to social unrest, against 30.4 percent who believed it was probably or totally unlikely.

The potential for violent protests is a main concern among investors because if they occur the government will find it hard to implement already very difficult reforms, increasing the likelihood of Greece defaulting on its debt down the road.

In a signal of rising opposition to reforms, striking dockers blocked hundreds of tourists from returning to their ship at Greece’s largest port on Monday in a protest against measures aimed at opening up the restrictive labour market.

Tuesday’s poll also showed 70.2 percent of respondents did not agree with the IMF’s involvement in the deal, which offers Greece emergency loans to help it avoid defaulting on its 300 billion euro debt pile.

Loathe to stoke public unrest similar to that which caused rioting and deaths in the late 1990s Asia crisis, the IMF has taken pains to focus on the social aspect of reforms.

But the aid package is expected to bring further austerity measures, including an increase in the retirement age and possible public job cuts. (Writing by Michael Winfrey)

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