July 19, 2015 / 9:32 AM / 4 years ago

Spain's Podemos loses ground as recovery, Greece factored in

MADRID (Reuters) - The Greek crisis and economic recovery at home are enticing Spanish voters with moderate views back to mainstream parties, the head of a polling firm said, after it published a survey showing anti-establishment Podemos losing ground.

With less than six months to the next general election, Spanish politics are highly volatile and voters’ preferences can vary hugely from one poll to the next, with the emergence of new parties including Podemos making results even harder to predict.

Support for the governing centre-right People’s Party (PP) stood at 29.1 percent while the opposition socialist PSOE was on 25.1 percent, the GAD3 poll published on Sunday in Spanish daily ABC found.

Previous polls had shown the two parties running neck-and-neck with Podemos, the leftist grassroots movement that transformed the country’s political landscape in mid-June when municipal coalitions it backed took power in four of the five biggest cities.

But Sunday’s poll gave Podemos just 15.0 percent of the vote.

The changing picture was “partly about Greece,” GAD3 head Narciso Michavila said.

“The PP above all lost votes in 2012 ... with all the tax increases and labour reforms” they introduced, he told Reuters.

“Now, however, at least the more moderate PP voter is starting to compare (Spain) with Greece and say, well, not having had a bailout was very tough but having had one would have been even worse.”

Greece is racing to sign off on a third financial rescue before debt repayment deadlines that, if missed, could force it out of the euro zone.

Spain came close to taking a sovereign bailout of its own in 2012, when European authorities stepped in to prop up its banks.

Around a year later a gradual upturn began, and the International Monetary Fund now expects Spain’s economy to grow 3.1 percent this year - a turnaround the government of Mariano Rajoy has leveraged to cut taxes as it gears up to contest an election expected to take place in November.

Michavila, whose firm has close links with the PP, said Podemos was also losing out in a shift in voter intentions on the left, which was favouring the PSOE.

A second poll on Sunday by Simple Logica and published on news portal larepublica.es, produced a similar result, though surveys from that research firm have shown wide variances over the past six months.

The GAD3 survey questioned around 1,000 voters and was conducted between June 23 and July 8.

Reporting by John Stonestreet; Editing by Susan Fenton

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