Polls show two main parties rebounding

Greece's two ruling parties, conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK, have rebounded in the polls and would jointly win enough votes to renew their coalition, three new polls showed on Friday.

The surveys, which come just over two weeks before a May 6 election, suggest that the parties have begun to win back support despite public opposition to austerity cuts.

One poll, by Marc for Ethnos, put support for ND at 21.9 percent, up from 17 percent in February, and backing for PASOK at 17.8 percent, up from 9.8 percent in February.

If replicated in the elections, the results would see the two parties jointly controlling 155 seats in the 300-strong assembly.

A separate poll by Kappa Research for Ta Nea forecast that the parties would win as many as 170 seats with 25.5 percent of voters supporting New Democracy and 19.1 percent backing PASOK.

The polls come at a time when Greeks are recoiling against harsh austerity measures, imposed by foreign creditors in exchange for billions of euros in rescue loans.

Though support for the two parties has begun to rise as the election nears, their ratings remain close to historic lows and their joint tally - as forecast by Friday's polls - would fall well short of PASOK's 43.9 percent victory in October 2009, just before the debt crisis exploded.

The two parties have been sharing power in an uneasy coalition since November.

Eight other parties would pass the 3 percent threshold to enter parliament, the polls showed, including the extreme-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), as Greeks turn to fringe parties opposed to the foreign bailout. Only one other pro-bailout party, the small center-right Democratic Alliance, was seen entering parliament, with up to 8 seats.

Political fragmentation could still complicate efforts to form a new stable coalition. In the past few weeks, previous polls have shown ND and PASOK hovering around the threshold needed to rule together, casting doubt over the future of the bailout deal that eased concerns over Europe's debt crisis.

New Democracy, which is consistently ahead in the polls, has also repeatedly said it wants to govern alone and threatened to trigger a repeat election.

Although many Greeks are fiercely opposed to the austerity measures they are being forced to endure and polls show they would broadly favour a coalition of leftist parties, most Greeks want their country to stay in the euro zone.

A poll by Kappa Research showed that 77.1 percent wants the new government to do whatever it takes to keep Greece in the euro.

A third poll, by Rass for Eleftheros Typos, shows that New Democracy would draw 24.1 percent of the votes if elections were held today while Pasok would get 17.1 percent.[Reuters, Kathimerini]

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