New Greek polls show bailout party in the lead
Given the uncertainty of a Grexit ("Greek Exit") from the euro and what it would do to countries like Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the news that the center right New Democracy party, which supports the EU bailout, is in the lead ahead of the June 17 vote can be considered good news for a nervous Europe.
Five polls published in the weekend press showed the conservative New Democracy party, which supports the bailout, with a lead of between 0.5 and 5.7 points over the anti-bailout leftist SYRIZA party - though analysts said the race was still too close to call.
SYRIZA has said it would ditch the country's bailout deal that has led to record unemployment and severe wage cuts.
But Germany and other lenders have said they would cut the country's funding if it took such a step. That would lead to bankruptcy and possibly force Greece to leave the euro.
New Democracy would get between 25.6 percent and 27.7 percent of the vote if the election was held today, according to the polls by Eleftheros Typos/Pulse, Proto Thema/Alco, Real News/MRB, To Vima/Kapa and Ethnos/MARC. SYRIZA's support was between 20.1 and 26 percent.
According to the Pulse and MARC polls, New Democracy and the next-biggest pro-bailout party, the socialist PASOK, would together win a parliamentary majority of between 11 and 16 seats in the country's 300-seat parliament.
The new figures were released after conservative leader Antonis Samaras launched an attack on SYRIZA, accusing his rival of flirting with disaster by promising voters Greece could ditch the bailout without risking an exit from the euro.
"If Greece unilaterally rejects the bailout deal it will be isolated for years ... It will have no food, no drugs, no fuel. It will have to live with permanent power cuts," Samaras told party faithful in a rally.
Making the election a referendum on Greece staying in the euro zone will probably bring victory to the coalition of New Democracy and the socialist PASTOK party who governed Greece during the negotiations for the bail out. With 82% of Greeks saying they want to keep the euro, the warnings from Germany and the IMF about Greece being shut off if they renege on austerity measures should be taken to heart.