Majority of Greeks support more protests: polls

ATHENS (BestGrowthStock) – A majority of Greeks support further protests against austerity measures agreed by the government in exchange for billions of euros in EU/IMF aid, two polls showed on Saturday.

A survey by polling group Public Issue for the Kathimerini newspaper showed that 68 percent backed more strikes and protests against the measures, which include deep cuts in wages and pensions, although a smaller number — 39 percent — were prepared to take to the streets themselves.

Another poll, from Kappa Research for To Vima newspaper, showed 53.2 percent in favor of more protests, compared to 45.3 percent against.

The Kappa poll was conducted on Thursday, a day after some 50,000 people marched in Athens and three people were killed in a petrol bomb attack in the worst unrest to hit the country since riots in 2008. The Public Issue survey was carried out the day before the deadly march.

Those polls contrasted with a third by ALCO for newspaper Proto Thema, which appeared to point to stronger support for government plans.

In that poll of 1,000 Greeks, 28 percent said they believed strikes and protest were the “best solution for tackling the economic crisis” in Greece.

The violence of Wednesday’s march and the phrasing of the survey questions may have contributed to the variations in the responses.

The Public Issue poll showed declining faith in Prime Minister George Papandreou’s handling of the economy, which contracted 2.0 percent last year and is forecast to shrink by twice that amount in 2010.

Some 36 percent said they trusted his leadership on the economy, down from 47 percent in April.

Public Issue director Giannis Mavris highlighted the broad support for the protests and said it suggested that “paralysis” of the state in the near future could not be ruled out.

Investors are closely monitoring public opposition to Papandreou’s austerity plans, concerned that prolonged social unrest could weaken his resolve and ability to push through steps which were passed by the Greek parliament on Thursday.

Papandreou’s PASOK party enjoys a comfortable majority in parliament and won the vote despite the refusal of the main conservative opposition party to back the measures.

Athens has been pledged 110 billion euros ($147.6 billion) in loans to buy it time to reform its uncompetitive economy, but financial markets have reacted with skepticism, prompting EU leaders to consider new steps to prevent the Greek crisis from spreading to other euro zone member states.

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(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Writing by Noah Barkin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Majority of Greeks support more protests: polls