Greece?s pro-bailout New Democracy (ND) party is ahead of the anti-bailout SYRIZA party in the run-up to a June 17 parliamentary election that may decide whether the debt-laden country remains in the euro, two polls showed on Thursday.
One poll, by DATA RC, put support for the conservative ND at 28.4 percent against 25.6 percent for SYRIZA, the leftist party that says it wants Greece to stay in the euro while ditching the international bailout and tough austerity measures prescribed by the European Union and other lenders.
A second poll, by ALCO for the Newsit.gr website, also put ND ahead of SYRIZA — by 2.3 percentage points.
The outcome of next month?s election — which has ramifications for the future of the wider euro zone as well — remains finely balanced, as different polls in recent days have produced highly contradictory results.
Three polls released on Wednesday showed the two parties neck-and-neck or very close, one putting SYRIZA in the lead.
The polls? contradictory nature has left political analysts wary of predicting the result in what is shaping up to be a gripping close-run contest.
The uncertainty is unsettling markets and politicians who fear that a win by SYRIZA would force Greece out of the single currency, possibly in a chaotic fashion.
Concern is growing about the level of debt in other eurozone countries such as Spain and Portugal, and some European policy makers fear a disorderly ?Grexit? could trigger a domino effect, sapping confidence in the single currency at a time when the euro zone is struggling to defend its credibility.
Greece was forced to call the June 17 vote after a parliamentary election on May 6 left parliament divided evenly between groups of parties that support and oppose austerity conditions attached to a 130 billion-euro rescue package agreed with lenders in March.
The subsequent failure of any party to form a workable coalition government, and the success of SYRIZA, which came second, sent shock waves through Europe and threw Greece?s future in the single currency into doubt.
Political analysts have warned that poll results should be treated cautiously because of the volatility of voters? moods.
A sea-change in the political landscape and a fifth year of recession and record unemployment are stretching voters? party loyalties to their limits, suggesting many Greeks are changing their minds almost daily about who to vote for, they say.
EU leaders have warned Greece of the consequences of renouncing the bailout conditions and threatened to pull the plug on new funding — a move that would lead to Athens? rapid bankruptcy and an ignominious exit from the single currency. [Reuters]