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Papandreou Support at 2011 Low in Poll After Budget Cuts

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Support for Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s ruling party sank to the lowest level this year after the government proposed a new property tax and cuts to pensions and wages, according to a Public Issue poll.

Papandreou’s Pasok party had 22.5 percent support, a drop of 5.5 percentage points from the month before and down from 38.5 percent in January, the poll, conducted for Kathimerini newspaper and SKAI TV, showed. Backing for the leading opposition party New Democracy fell 0.5 percentage point to 31.5 percent. Smaller parties gained, as the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, added 0.5 percentage point to 9.5 percent and the Democratic Left 2 percentage points to 5 percent.

Papandreou’s support is ebbing after the government, seeking to avert a default, introduced measures to plug the budget gap for 2011 and 2012, including a property tax approved by parliament on Sept. 27 and deeper cuts to state pensions and wages. The legislation, aimed at securing additional bailout funds, came after inspectors from the International Monetary Fund and European Union halted a review of Greece on Sept. 1.

Greek bonds fell as 10-year yields climbed 24 basis points, or 0.24 percentage point, to 23.5 percent, according to generic pricing for euro-denominated government securities. Greece’s 4.59 percent bond due in 2016 fell 5 cents to 34.875 cents on the euro, raising the yield to 35.6 percent. The benchmark ASE Index rose 0.6 percent to 744.37, a third day of gains.

Early Elections

The poll of 1,015 people, conducted Sept. 29 to Oct. 4, found 53 percent of respondents were opposed to early elections, while 85 percent said the country is headed in the wrong direction. The poll had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

“Greece is in a critical and difficult period but the crisis is also an opportunity to change the economy,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters in Athens today after a meeting with German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler.

Twenty-two percent of respondents said Papandreou, 59, was the best choice for prime minister, down 4 percentage points, while 28 percent picked 60-year-old New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, a gain of 6 percentage points from last month. Forty-seven percent said neither is a good choice. Papandreou had a negative rating of 73 percent compared with 59 percent for Samaras.

When asked what composition the government should have, 18 percent of respondents preferred a coalition between the two main parties, 18 percent said a broad coalition of parties and 9 percent said a New Democracy majority. Five percent of those polled said they preferred a Pasok majority.

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