January 26, 2012 / 12:33 PM / 6 years ago

Greek conservatives widen lead over Socialists

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s conservatives have widened their lead over their socialist coalition partners, but would not secure an absolute majority if elections were held now, a poll showed on Thursday.

New Democracy would win 30.5 percent of the vote, according to an opinion poll by VPRC. A total of 12 percent would vote for the former ruling PASOK party, down from 18 percent in the previous month.

“PASOK’s continuing drop has brought the party to fifth place,” VPRC consultant Christoforos Vernardakis said.

As many as 92 percent of the 801 surveyed between January 20-23 said they were dissatisfied with the handling of the country’s debt crisis by technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’ coalition government, made up by the PASOK, New Democracy and the far-right LAOS parties.

A total of 45 percent want elections now versus 34 percent, who want Papademos to stay in power.

Conservative leader Antonis Samaras told Reuters in an interview this week that he wants snap elections as soon Greece clinches a new bailout deal and no later than April 8.

Criticized by EU peers for not backing some of the austerity measures prescribed by international lenders, New Democracty has slammed the current policy mix. The conservatives say salary cuts and tax hikes, without privatizations and reforms, are only deepening the recession.

It has said it will continue to back the Papademos government’s efforts to clinch a deal as well as measures such as structural reforms and steps to fight chronic tax evasion and bureaucracy.

The newly founded Democratic Left party came second, with 13 percent of votes, followed by the Communist party and the Left Coalition with 12.5 percent.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou

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