ATHENS – Promises by major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras to end austerity are paying off with voters who have given his party a stunning 11-point lead over the ruling New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
The Public Issue opinion poll published in Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper SYRIZA 36 percent to 25 percent for New Democracy, a big jump over a different poll last week that gave the Leftists a 2.6 percent lead.
Samaras’ party is apparently paying a big price for continuing to impose harsh austerity measures on orders of international lenders especially after Tsipras vowed to restore pay cuts, slash hiked taxes, bring pension benefits back to their previous level along with reduced lump sums and rehire all fired workers, even if critics said the math doesn’t work out.
He’s also said he would either revise the terms of 240 billion euros ($317 billion) in two bailouts from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) or renege on the debt, which would leave Greece broke.
He’s been mostly vague on how he would govern by reversing austerity and with Greece without access to public or private markets but voters are scooping it up.
The survey showed the new populist, anti-politician party To Potami (The River) a surprising third with 9.5 percent, followed by the ultra far-right extremists Golden Dawn at 7.5 percent, more than they won in 2012’s elections even though all 18 of its lawmakers have been arrested on charges of running a criminal gang.
The dormant Communists (KKE) are fifth at 6.5 percent and Samaras’ coalition partner the PASOK Socialists sixth at 5.5 percent after gaining 44 percent in winning the 2009 elections on promises “The money is there,” similar to what Tsipras is saying.
The Independent Greeks are seventh at 4 percent and the former coalition partner the Democratic Left (DIMAR) dead lat with 1 percent, far less than the 3 percent needed to win seats in Parliament. The other parties got a combined 5 percent and are irrelevant.
This result would translate into 146 MPs for SYRIZA, just short of a majority in the 300-seat Parliament, according to Public Issue. That means if the party wins with that number it would need to form a coalition as did Samaras after New Democracy’s slim victory two years ago.
The survey also suggested that Greeks are almost evenly split on whether there should be early elections: 49 percent said they “probably are not needed,” while 46 percent said they “probably are needed.”