January 22, 2014 / 8:51 AM / 6 years ago

Greece's anti-austerity Syriza party widens lead over conservatives

Greece's leader of Radical Left Syriza opposition party Alexis Tsipras addresses parliamentarians in Athens January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s main opposition Syriza party has widened its lead over the ruling conservatives, a poll found on Wednesday, but most Greeks said they do not trust any party to rule the country.

The poll by Public Issue for the Efimerida Ton Syntakton newspaper found the anti-austerity party would get 31.5 percent of the vote if elections were held now, giving it a 3.5 percentage-point lead over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy.

Local and European Parliament elections will be held in May and Syriza, which has vowed to tear up the multi-billion euro international bailout agreement keeping Greece afloat, hopes a strong showing will strengthen its call for early elections.

The next national polls are due in 2016.

Greece is struggling to pull itself out of a six-year recession, made worse by austerity measures demanded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund under the 240 billion euro bailout.

Unemployment has hit record levels, almost tripling to nearly 28 percent since the crisis began in 2009.

Most Greeks - 55 percent - said they did not trust any party to govern the country, according to the poll carried out between Jan 8-13. Public Issue gave the mainly leftist Syriza a one percentage point lead in a poll last September.

Support for the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the once mighty socialist Pasok which won a landslide election in 2009 with 44 percent of the vote, tumbled to 6.5 percent, tied in fourth place with the communist KKE party.

The far-right Golden Dawn party, whose leader and senior lawmakers have been jailed on charges of belonging to a criminal organization following the killing of an anti-fascism rapper last year, remains the country’s third most popular force with 10 percent, the poll said.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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