Greek Socialists keep lead despite austerity: Poll



Greek Socialists keep lead despite austerity: Poll Athens: Greece's ruling socialists continue to lead their main opposition conservative rivals despite having taken tough austerity measures to deal with the country's debt crisis, an opinion poll showed on Saturday.

The poll conducted by pollsters Alco for newspaper Proto Thema showed the ruling PASOK socialists leading the Conservatives by 10 percentage points -- 32.1 to 22.1 percent.

The ratings for both parties were lower than from a January Alco poll that showed PASOK with 34.7 percent support and the conservatives 25.5.

Under pressure from its euro zone partners and rising borrowing costs, the Socialist-led government has cut public sectors wages, frozen pension and raised taxed, aiming at cutting the budget deficit by 4 percentage points to 8.7 percent of GDP this year.

Euro zone leaders and the IMF have supported the steps and say they should prevent a deepening of the crisis, but investors are keeping a close eye on public opinion because they are still unsure whether the government will be able to carry them out.

Saturday's poll also showed that about half of the 1,000 respondents were in favour of labour strikes against the belt-tightening, while 42 percent were not. Some 60 percent believed Greece would finally get over its financial crisis.

A different poll published on Friday showed PASOK with a similar lead, but also showed three quarters of Greeks thought that the government's plan to cut the country's budget deficit was "socially unfair" because it was aimed at lower earners.

Bureau Report