UPDATE 2-Greek PM urges waverers to vote for pension bill

* Papandreou seeks backing for vote expected July 8

* Says Greece on right path with reforms, no snap election

* Poll shows ruling Socialists biggest, but just 23.4 pct

(Recasts with PM interview)

By Renee Maletzou and Alister Doyle

ATHENS, July 3 (BestGrowthStock) – Greece’s Prime Minister has urged
waverers in his Socialist party to back a sweeping pension bill
in a parliametary vote expected on July 8, saying the indebted
nation was “on the right path” in an austerity cure.

Separately, an opinion poll showed the Socialists would be
the biggest party if an election were held now, but would win
just 23.4 percent of the vote with many undecided. It also
showed about half of Greeks reckoned pension reform was needed.

“Voting in favour of the pension reform bill is a vote of
responsibility by all lawmakers towards Greek society and the
next generations,” Prime Minister George Papandreou said in an
interview published in Sunday’s Eleftherotypia newspaper.

“I will never get tired of repeating that the Greek people’s
sacrifices will pay off. They are already paying off. We are on
the right path,” he said of cuts agreed in return for a 110
billion euro ($134.6 billion) bailout from the EU and the IMF.

Parliament is due to vote on Thursday for the bill that will
increase the years Greeks have to work to qualify for a pension,
curb early pension deals and raise the retirement age for women
to 65 from 60, matching the age for men.

Papandreou’s PASOK party has 157 of 300 seats in parliament
and the reform is likely to pass even though some PASOK
legislators have expressed their opposition.

Asked if any dissenters would be expelled, Papandreou said:
“I trust PASOK’s lawmakers. I believe that we all realise our
responsibility to change the country.”

In May, Papandreou expelled three PASOK lawmakers after they
refused to support the main bill of austerity measures.

NO ELECTION

Asked about media speculation there might be an early
election, he said:”There is no way.”

Papandreou won power in a snap election in October 2009 and
a new vote is not due until 2013.

“People gave us a mandate to pull the country out of the
crisis and change it radically,” he said.

The opinion poll, by Kapa Research in Sunday’s To Vima
newspaper, showed Papandreou’s socialists almost 8 percentage
points ahead of the main opposition New Democracy conservative
party on 15.6 percent.

A far larger 40.1 percent of voters were undecided in the
poll of 1,002 people taken between June 30 and July 1.

On June 17, another polling agency showed the Socialists on
28.1 percent of the vote and New Democracy on 20.1 percent.

Public and private sector unions have called a national
strike, the sixth joint stoppage this year, for July 8 to
coincide with the planned pension vote.

In the To Vima poll, 35.2 percent reckoned the pension
reforms were “necessary but unfair” and 14.2 percent called them
“necessary and inevitable”.

Some Greek newspapers also reported that European Monetary
Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn would visit Athens in late July
to check on its progress in fiscal cuts and austerity.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

UPDATE 2-Greek PM urges waverers to vote for pension bill