Poll: Most Greeks want the euro, oppose austerity

Most Greeks want their country to stay in the eurozone even though they are increasingly angry about the job losses, pay cuts and other sacrifices demanded by international lenders, a poll showed on Tuesday.

Eurozone finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Tuesday to decide whether Greece deserves emergency loans worth 44 billion euros. They are expected to tentatively approve the next tranche of aid needed to keep Greece afloat.

The Greek survey, conducted last week after parliament approved a new wave of austerity, shows that about 63 percent want Greece to stay in the single currency bloc at all cost, significantly lower from 81.6 percent just before a June 17 election.

“The tough austerity measures are weighing on Greeks,” Takis Theodorikakos of the GPO poll company told Reuters. “The price they are paying for staying in the euro is very high.”

More than 40 percent of those polled said they were angry and disappointed with their politicians, the judicial system and labour unions.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is anxious to convince the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that his government is determined to implement the austerity measures and reforms the lenders have requested. IMF chief Christine Lagarde has cut short a visit to Asia to join the discussion.

About 63 percent of the 1,200 Greeks polled on Nov 15-16 said they viewed the government’s handling of the crisis negatively.

If elections were held now, the radical leftist SYRIZA party, which opposes tough austerity measures, would win with 22.3 percent, the poll for MEGA TV found. It said the ruling conservative New Democracy party would get 20.1 percent.

Both parties have dropped supporters since the election. New Democracy won the vote with 29.6 percent while SYRIZA came second with 26.9 percent.

The ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party, which entered parliament for the first time, has ridden a wave of public anger aimed at corrupt politicians, austerity measures and illegal immigration. The poll said it would come third with 10.3 percent, up from 6.9 percent in the election.

More than half of those polled said their income had dropped and that they struggle to make ends meet. About 78 percent said that wage and pension cuts, tax hikes and public sector layoffs would not help the economy stabilize.

Most Greeks said they do not want a snap election, but 50.4 percent said a cabinet reshuffle was necessary.

Government officials told Reuters on Monday that Samaras would reshuffle his cabinet once he secured the next loan tranche to try to make his government more effective. [Reuters]

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