ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's radical leftist Syriza party holds a 3.6-percentage-point lead over the ruling conservatives, a poll published after the first round of a presidential vote on Wednesday showed.
The poll was published hours after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras lost the first round of the vote by a larger-than- expected margin, in a disappointing result for his conservative-centre left coalition ahead of two more rounds of voting this month.
The survey conducted by Marc for Alpha TV showed support for the anti-bailout Syriza at 28.5 percent versus Samaras's New Democracy party, which would get 24.9 percent, if elections were held now. The co-ruling Pasok party would get 4.8 percent.
The telephone survey of 1,002 households, conducted on Dec. 14-17 nationwide, showed that 56.1 percent of Greeks prefer to see a new president elected by parliament versus 40.4 percent who favour snap elections.
The ruling coalition last week brought a key presidential vote forward by two months, leaving a final bailout review and plans for a negotiated exit from its EU/IMF bailout programme up in the air, while it seeks parliamentary backing.
To survive the vote, the government needs the backing of 180 lawmakers. It only managed to secure the support of 160 lawmakers on Wednesday, winning the support of only five deputies over the 155 seats in parliament that it controls.
Failure to get its nominee for the largely ceremonial post elected by the final round of voting on Dec. 29 would trigger a snap parliamentary election.
Syriza has been ahead of the government in opinion polls for months but its lead has shrunk in recent days as the showdown in parliament has neared.
The leftist party held a five-point lead over the ruling conservatives, according to a survey conducted on Dec. 8-9 by pollster Alco.
Writing by Deepa Babington and George Georgiopoulos