ATHENS (Reuters) – Most Greeks want the government to renegotiate the terms of its EU/IMF bailout regardless of the impact this stance would have on the country’s future in the eurozone, a poll showed on Saturday.
Greece is dependent on the funds from Brussels and the IMF for day to day state spending but in exchange for a second, 130 billion-euro bailout it is implementing spending cuts that have pushed it into its worst recession since World War Two and put one in five out of work.
An MRB poll for Sunday’s Realnews showed that 73.9 percent of Greeks want the new coalition government to stick to its promises and demand a renegotiation of the bailout, even if this puts the country’s euro membership at risk.
More than half of those polled said they believed Greece would stay in the euro zone, while 60.4 percent said international lenders would probably give Greece more time to implement the deficit-cutting measures they have prescribed or ease the terms of the bailout.
Greece’s new finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, met his euro zone counterparts last Monday in Brussels and promised to meet the terms of the existing financial rescue.
Athens has conceded that it has fallen behind agreed targets and some euro zone officials have warned the country will get no further aid until it gets back on track with reforms. European officials, however, have also said the money will be found to keep Greece going until after inspectors revisit Athens later this month.
In another poll by Kapa Research for To Vima newspaper, a majority of Greeks said the government should immediately renegotiate the bailout, while more than 90 percent said they opposed any further tax hikes or wage cuts.
The polls are among the first published since a re-run election on June 17, which gave the conservatives a slight lead over the radical leftist SYRIZA party that opposes the bailout. Both surveys showed conservative New Democracy leading again if elections were held now.
After a short initial visit to Athens to meet government officials, a mission of European and IMF officials will return on July 24 for more formal talks on Greece’s faltering progress in hitting its targets, before deciding whether to disburse more aid.
Greece is expected to spell out measures worth 11.7 billion euros for 2013-2014 this week. The new government has said it will try to reverse or replace some of the budget cuts and reforms agreed in March as part of the country’s second bailout.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition government initially outlined an ambitious wishlist of changes to modify the country’s latest bailout programme but has struck a more conciliatory tone in recent days as it faces the prospect of running out of money without more aid.
Samaras’ government got off to a rocky start with three ministers resigning in as many weeks and internal rifts have emerged over the coalition’s stance on the bailout.
At the Eurogroup meeting last Monday, finance minister Yannis Stournaras did not present his government’s request for another two years to meet deficit targets saying that would be done only when reform plans are back on track.
Instead, the government plans to implement 3 billion euros worth of previously-agreed measures to reduce its deficit this year, with European partners insisting that Greece should carry out its promises despite a deeper-than-expected recession and delays due to repeat elections.
“We are doing everything we can to meet the targets,” deputy finance minister Christos Staikouras told Sunday’s Ethnos newspaper. “Given the current circumstances, we won’t need to take any extra measures this year.”
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; editing by Patrick Graham)