Greek Opinion Poll Shows Majority Want Revised Terms

Greek Opinion Poll Shows Majority Want Revised Bailout Terms
A passenger waits on a metro train platform near a Greek euro currency advertisment in Athens, Greece. Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Most Greeks want to see the terms of an international financial rescue revised even as they acknowledge that failing to abide by them may lead to the country exiting the euro, an opinion poll showed.

Seventy-seven percent of the 1,600 Greeks surveyed by GPO SA said the terms of the bailout should be revised. More than half, or 52.4 percent, said they should stay in the euro if they were forced to accept the current austerity measures tied to the bailout, while 44.5 percent said they shouldn’t. Eighty-one percent said they wanted to remain in the single currency. The survey was broadcast on Athens-based Mega TV today.

The findings suggest the June 17 election may still cast doubt on Greece’s place in the 17-nation euro area. While the New Democracy party, which supported the international rescue of the country earlier in the year in return for austerity measures, placed ahead of anti-bailout party Syriza, the difference between the two parties remained within the margin of error.

New Democracy had 23.4 percent support compared with 22.1 percent for Syriza, according to the survey. The error margin was 2.6 percentage points. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras advocates unilaterally canceling the austerity measures demanded for the bailout, with an agenda of renegotiating the rescue terms.

Political Instability

The cuts required for 240 billion euros ($300 billion) of aid have driven the country into the worst recession since World War II. Polls since the inconclusive May 6 vote have shown Syriza challenging the New Democracy party for first place. Both parties would need to team up with others to form a government, with the prospect of more political instability fueling concern the country could run out of money as soon as early July and leave the euro.

Stocks dropped today, the euro weakened to a two-year low and Spain’s default risk rose to a record as the country struggled to recapitalize its banks. Italian bonds stayed lower after a debt sale, while oil headed for its biggest monthly decline in almost four years. The Athens benchmark general index fell 2.4 percent at 12:40 p.m. in Athens to 515.41.

International inspectors won’t visit Greece for a review that allows funds to be paid until a government is formed. Pasok, which also supported the bailout in an interim government with New Democracy, had 13.5 percent support, the poll showed.

U.S. Support

Lael Brainard, the U.S. Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, said after a visit to Athens that the U.S. recognizes the sacrifices the Greek people are making.

“The Greek people have been undertaking important reforms to restore competitiveness and a sustainable fiscal position,” Brainard said, according to a transcript of her comments e-mailed today from the U.S. embassy in Athens. “We stand with the people of Greece as they stand by their commitments to continue the path of reform.”

Brainard met in Athens yesterday with Socialist Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and caretaker Finance Minister Giorgios Zanias, on the first leg of a European tour that will include visits to Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt and Berlin.

The GPO poll showed Greeks divided on whether they would leave the euro area, with 48 percent saying there was a low possibility compared with 45 percent saying the possibility was high.

A third of those surveyed said New Democracy was ready to take over government of the country, compared with 16 percent who said Syriza was. Fifty-seven percent said they believed New Democracy would win the elections.

Exit Costs

Greece’s exit from the euro currency would lead to an immediate and significant drop in living standards for Greeks, National Bank of Greece SA, the country’s biggest bank, said in a report published yesterday.

Per-capita income would drop by at least 55 percent in euro terms as a new currency would depreciate by about 65 percent, according to the report, e-mailed from the bank.

The recession would deepen by about 22 percent at stable prices, adding to the 14 percent recorded in the 2009 to 2011 period, National Bank said. Unemployment would jump to 34 percent and inflation rise to above 30 percent, pushed up by the higher cost of imported goods, it said.

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