By Lefteris Yallouros -Athens
Main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leads center-right New Democracy which heads the coalition government, with 21.9 percent over 21 percent, a poll carried out by MRB showed Monday.
The Dec. 2-11 survey of 2,000 people put the far-right Golden Dawn party in third place with 8.9 percent, almost unchanged from six months ago.
It is the first time that SYRIZA had finished first in such polls in more than a year.
Furthermore, the survey also found that more than 90 percent of Greeks feel pessimistic about the nation’s economy while 94 percent of Greeks considered the country’s situation “quite bad” or “very bad” — a jump of more than 10 points since June.
The survey was published on the same day the government and troika officials reportedly agreed on the future of the future of Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS) which will see the next tranche of the country’s rescue loan (EUR 1 billion) disbursed in time.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, said he was “cautiously optimistic”, that the government will reach an agreement for the release of the EUR 1 billion loan tranche this week.
Although common ground appears to have been reached on this issue, Greece and the troika were not able to bridge their differences on other issues such as maintaining VAT for restaurants at 13 percent, (the troika wants the rate to rise to 23 percent again), and lifting the moratorium on home foreclosures or not.
On the issue of home foreclosures, reports suggest homes with a taxable value of under 180,000 euros (as opposed to the current 200,000) will most likely not be eligible for repossession if the owners have an annual household income of less than 25,000 euros.
After the latest polls, it is considered vital for the government to avoid imposing further austerity measures ahead of European Parliament and local elections in the spring of 2014.
The government and its bailout lenders may be predicting the end of the severe six-year recession in 2014, however, if the real economy is not given a breather sooner rather than later, the government could suffer at the polling stations in a few months.