Majority in Greece finds austerity steps 'socially unfair': poll

Three quarters of Greeks think that the government's plan to cut the country's budget deficit are "socially unfair" because it is aimed at lower earners, a poll showed.

Majority in Greece finds austerity steps 'socially unfair': poll

Three quarters of Greeks think that the government's plan to cut the country's budget deficit are "socially unfair" because it is aimed at lower earners, a poll showed on Friday.

The survey also showed nearly half of Greeks did not see a safety-net deal agreed last week by euro zone leaders to prevent a fiscal crisis here as positive.

Facing rising borrowing costs and pressure from its euro zone peers, the Socialist-led government has cut public wages, frozen pensions and raised taxes to cut the budget gap by almost a third to 8.7 percent of gross domestic product.

The poll showed 75.2 percent of respondents did not like the measures, mainly because they thought they hit pensioners and salaried workers too much and did not contribute to growth.

Nearly as many -- 72.2 percent -- believed the direction of developments were "bad" or "very bad" in the Mediterranean state of 11 million, according to the survey taken by agency MRB and published in the Realnews weekly.

The IMF and European Union have supported the austerity steps and say they should be adequate to prevent a deepening of the crisis, but investors are keeping a close eye on public opinion because they are still unsure whether the government will be able to carry them out.

Demonstrators have staged weekly marches in Athens, and memories of violent 2009 clashes between protesters and police have raised concern that the government may lose its nerve if social unrest rises.

The poll showed an almost dead even split of 46.2 percent to 46.3 between those who thought the measures went far enough and those who thought they did not. That was compared with 36.2 percent and 53.0 in a February survey.

Respondents were also sceptical about the EU/IMF plan, with 49.8 percent seeing it as not so positive or not positive at all and only 36.6 percent viewing it as positive or very positive.

Greece says it will turn to the plan only if it is unable to borrow on markets and is trying to convince investors it can shrink its huge deficit and eventually cut a debt load equal to an expected 120 percent of its annual economic output.

But it is facing weak foreign demand for its bonds. Despite the safety net agreement, its borrowing costs rose this week and remain more than double that of fellow euro zone member Germany.

It is struggling to raise about 16 billion euros to roll over debt and cover spending coming due through the end of May.

The Socialists maintained a wide lead in popularity over the right-of-centre New Democracy party, the poll showed, with 31.9 percent support, versus 21.2 percent.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Nisan 2010, 17:01

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