April 20, 2013 / 8:00 PM / in 6 years

Greece's ruling conservatives regain narrow lead: poll

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s ruling conservatives have regained a narrow lead over anti-bailout leftists, an opinion poll published on Saturday showed.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras smiles during the Economist Conference on "Overcoming Stagnation: Reigniting Greece's Potential", in Athens April 16, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

A survey by Metron Analysis for Sunday’s Eleftherotypia newspaper put support for New Democracy at 18.7 percent, giving it a 0.6 percentage-point lead over the Syriza party.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy party, which won elections in June with 29.6 percent of the vote, has been neck-and-neck with the anti-bailout Syriza in recent polls.

In a previous Metron Analysis poll in March, New Democracy trailed Syriza by 0.3 percentage points.

New Democracy has been behind Syriza for months following the June 17 vote but managed to grab a poll lead in January after securing international bailout funds to avert bankruptcy and allay doubts over Greece’s future in the euro.

Samaras has since been trying to show Greece’s international lenders - the European Union and International Monetary Fund - that his country is determined to achieve its bailout targets.

The “troika” of creditors concluded their review of the country’s bailout plan earlier this month, giving Athens a clean bill of health, which secures a disbursement of at least 2.8 billion euros in aid.

Their next inspection is expected to take place in June and by then Greece must have carried out its first big privatizations and set out how it will cover a budget shortfall of 2 to 4 billion euros for the year 2015 and 2016.

The poll, which was carried out April 16-17, also showed that 68 percent of Greeks think the current situation in Greece is worse than a year ago.

Greeks have lost almost a third of their disposable incomes since the debt crisis started more than three years ago, mainly due to repeated waves of austerity and tax hikes in turn for foreign aid.

But Greece’s coalition government has ruled out taking any new austerity measures, hoping for a recovery of the economy after five years of recession.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Stephen Powell

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