Most Greeks say government doing little to fight corruption - poll

ATHENS Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:03pm GMT

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Most Greeks believe their government is doing little to go after tax evaders and root out corruption, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday which put support for the ruling conservatives marginally ahead of the leftist main opposition.

Greece's fragile coalition has been shaken in recent weeks by a scandal over a list of possible tax dodgers. Many Greeks are angry that successive governments have failed to pursue those on the list while imposing wage and pension cuts on everyone else.

Greece has yet to convict anyone prominent of tax evasion, a major problem in the cash-strapped country, fuelling exasperation with a political class that promised to force the wealthy to share some of the pain of the economic crisis.

The poll by Marc for Alpha TV carried out between January 18 and January 21 found 52.7 percent of those surveyed thought the government had failed to step up efforts to deal with graft.

Support for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party stood at 28.2 percent and support for Syriza at 27.9 if an election was held now, according to the poll. That compares to 29.6 percent for New Democracy and 26.9 percent for Syriza in the June elections.

For months New Democracy trailed Syriza, which opposes Greece's billion-euro (dollar) bailout, but it pulled ahead in January after securing aid in December to avoid bankruptcy and end months of uncertainty over its future in the euro.

As many as 62.3 percent said Greece had averted financial collapse and the risk of returning the drachma currency once and for all, while 31.6 percent believe bankruptcy is inevitable.

Forty-six percent said things would be worse if Syriza were in government and 63.7 want the government to complete its four-year term, against 32.3 percent who want early elections.

Questions still remain over whether the coalition can continue to implement a reform programme that has sent unemployment to the highest in the European Union and affected living standards.

A public fed up with waves of tax hikes and salary cuts has taken to the streets, in often violent protests, and lashed out at politicians they hold responsible for the crisis.

The poll found support for Samaras's junior partners, Socialist PASOK and the Democratic Left party, tumbled to 7.2 and 5.8 percent respectively from 13.3 and 6.1 percent in June.

PASOK, which won the 2009 election with 36.6 percent of the vote, would be the fourth biggest party in the assembly, behind the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party, the poll found.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

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