Parties launch pre-election campaigns

After a few days of relative respite over the Easter weekend, political leaders are expected to start campaigning in earnest this week ahead of snap elections on May 6.

Meanwhile, Kathimerini understands that foreign creditors expect cuts to high-end pensions in July following negotiations with whatever government emerges next month.

The post-election outlook remains murky with the two main parties, socialist PASOK and conservative New Democracy, still garnering less than the 40 percent of votes they would need to form a new coalition, according to opinion polls.

A series of smaller parties to the left and the right of the political spectrum are drawing most of the remaining votes, with a sizeable section of the electorate undecided.

Another finding in a recent opinion poll, which will doubtlessly worry creditors, is that seven out of 10 Greeks want to remain in the eurozone but without austerity. The survey by polling firm MRB for Real News found that 66 percent of respondents do not want Greece to return to the drachma but also oppose the austerity measures imposed by creditors in return for foreign loans. The survey shows frontrunner ND polling at 25.4 percent with PASOK at 15.8 percent.

The leaders of both parties are planning several public rallies this week in a bid to win round skeptical supporters and undecided voters.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Monday discussed the prospects for much-needed growth in Greece by telephone with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Venizelos?s office said. Referring to the package of growth-boosting measures the EC is to announce this week, Venizelos proposed that they focus on boosting youth employment, small and medium-sized businesses, and driving investments, his office said.

ND leader Antonis Samaras is on Thursday due to present his party?s latest economic policy plan, dubbed Zappeio 3, where it is rumored that he will propose ways of averting further reductions to wages and pensions.

But sources suggest that cuts will be difficult to avoid, at least for those whose monthly pensions are in excess of 1,600 euros. Foreign creditors are reportedly eyeing cuts to these payments, to the lump sums paid out by social security funds to retirees and to the benefits given by auxiliary funds, which are to be merged in July.