ATHENS (Reuters) - Most Greeks have responded negatively toward an EU agreement which slashed the country’s debt because they believe it harms their national sovereignty, according to a poll Saturday.
The survey published by newspaper To Vima and conducted immediately after Thursday’s summit agreement on a new 130 billion euro bailout package for debt-stricken Greece, showed that nearly 60 percent of Greeks viewed the deal as negative or probably negative.
The package involves banks, pension funds and insurers — which hold more than 200 billion euros of Greek debt — accepting a 50 percent writedown to make Greece’s colossal debt mountain more sustainable.
Greece’s total debt of more than 350 billion euros is predicted to top 160 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year.
Around half of those surveyed said the agreement signed in Brussels was a blow to Greece’s sovereignty, handing more control over economic affairs to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Only 36 percent of the 1,009 people questioned in the telephone poll said the package was positive or probably positive for Greece.
Anger at the latest round of austerity measures demanded by Greece’s international creditors after the government missed deficit targets erupted into protests in many towns and cities during a national holiday Friday.
A major military parade in the northern city of Thessaloniki was canceled when protestors shouted “traitors” at President Karolos Papoulias and other officials, amid frustration at unemployment running at over 16 percent and falling living standards.
Nearly three-quarters of those questioned said they wanted Greece to remain in the euro, with less than one-fifth saying they wanted a return to the drachma currency.
Saturday’s opinion poll showed Greeks that the majority of Greeks — 55.5 percent — wanted their political parties to show more unity.
Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Socialist government has faced bitter opposition from both sides of the political spectrum and from within its own ranks to measures to cut the public payroll and reduce wages and pensions.
The party was reduced to just 153 members in the 300-seat parliament after Papandreou expelled one legislator for voting against labor reforms last week, prompting speculation that tough votes in the coming weeks on the 2012 budget and approval of the EU summit decisions could force it toward elections.
A large majority of those questioned, 75.6 percent, said they wanted the decisions from the EU summit to be approved by 180 lawmakers — implying that the opposition would have to vote in favor of it.
But only 37.3 percent of those questioned said they wanted elections now.
The government, which has said the EU package will not trigger any fresh austerity measures, has rejected requiring a wider majority for the vote.
Most Greeks said they would not want Papandreou to be in charge of a national unity government, with former ECB Vice President Lucas Papademos as the most favoured candidate followed by conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras.
Samaras’ New Democracy party was the most popular political group, with 22 percent support, followed by Papandreou’s Socialist party on 15 percent. More than a quarter of Greeks said they were undecided on who they would vote for.
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Daniel Flynn