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Greece: Poll shows fragmented political landscape

Greeks continued to throw their support behind smaller, fringe political parties, a public opinion poll showed Sunday, as support for the countrys two main parties, the Socialists and the conservative New Democracy party, withered.

According to the poll published in the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper, if elections were held today, nine political parties -- up from five currently -- would gather enough support to pass the minimum 3% threshold needed to enter parliament.

Dow Jones Newswires, reports that, the same poll showed that the New Democracy party continues to lead in public opinion, garnering 28% of the vote, but not enough to form a governing majority in the 300-member parliament even with a 50 seat bonus awarded to the leading party under Greeces electoral system.

The same poll showed that New Democracys popularity had slipped three percentage points since a month ago. And, instead, the poll confirmed that two smaller right wing parties -- the newly formed Independent Greeks and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party -- would command 4% and 3.5% of the vote respectively, while the nationalist Laos party would get 4%.

The same poll also showed that the Socialist party would gather just 11% of the vote, up three percentage points from a month ago, but still close to historic lows for the party.

Among other center-left and leftwing parties, the newly formed Democratic Left would get 16% of the vote, followed by 12% for the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), 11% for the Communist Party of Greece and 4% for the Greens party.

Although no official date has been set, Greece is widely expected to go to elections next month, most likely April 29, after the current interim government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos finalizes a new EUR130 billion bailout for the country and concludes an associated debt restructuring.

In November, the Socialists and New Democracy -- along with, initially, Laos -- agreed to set up the interim government to lead the country for a few months as Greece negotiated the terms of those two deals. In mid-February, amid violent protests and with the risk of default looming, Greeces parliament approved a package of reforms and austerity measures the country will have to take in exchange for the new loan.

The poll Sunday showed that 52% of Greece disagreed with parliaments recent approval of the reforms and cutbacks. But, in an apparent contradiction, it also showed that only 46% of Greeks now thought the country would default, down from 60% last month. A majority of Greeks, 67%, think that Greece would be worse off if it abandoned the euro and returned to its old currency the drachma, the poll showed.
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