More Greeks turn pessimistic, join anti-bailout camp

Greeks are increasingly pessimistic about their country?s future and hardening against the bailout that is keeping the economy afloat, according to an opinion poll published on Friday.

Living standards have fallen sharply through five years of recession and three years of tough austerity measures in exchange for the rescue funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund that have staved off bankruptcy.

In the survey by pollster Public Issue for Skai television and daily newspaper Kathimerini, 72 percent said they opposed the bailouts, up from 68 percent in September.

The country is bracing for yet more austerity, with the government in talks with the lenders to clinch the next tranche of its second, 130-billion-euro rescue.

The measures will include new cuts to wages and pensions and a drastic reduction in spending on welfare and health.

Of the 1,017 people polled between Oct. 4 and 8, four in every five said Greece was heading in the wrong direction, up from 74 percent last month. Just 13 percent said it was on the right track.

?The political climate is worsening,? Public Issue head Yannis Mavris told Skai TV. ?These are very high (negative) levels which we haven?t seen in a very long time, and they capture precisely the general political climate.? Unemployment has soared, hitting 25.1 percent in July, according to data released on Thursday. More than half of young Greeks and a third of women are out of work.

The crisis is fuelling repeated bouts of violent protest, most recently on Tuesday when irate demonstrators clashed with police during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to many Greeks the chief architect of the austerity drive.

Just 21 percent of those questioned said they believed the government – a coalition of leftists and conservatives – would see out its four-year term.

Seventy percent predicted an early election, and 44 percent said they thought the leftist opposition Syriza party would win if the vote were held today.

Syriza, which went from near obscurity to a strong second place in an election in June, says it would tear up the terms of the bailout. [Reuters]

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