Greece's governing Syriza party appears to be on track to win next month's snap elections. But the first surveys since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned indicate Syriza may wind up in a much weaker position.
The survey, conducted by polling company ProRata and published in this Friday's edition of the "Efimerida Ton Syntakton" newspaper, showed that 23 percent of decided voters intended to vote for Syriza in next month's election. They were followed by the conservative New Democracy party with 19.5 percent.
The poll showed that the gap between the two parties had narrowed significantly since a ProRata survey in early July which gave Syriza 26 percent compared to just 15 percent for the conservatives.
That Syriza's popularity has taken a hit shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Tsipras earlier this month agreed to international creditors' demands to implement painful austerity measures in exchange for Greece's third bailout, worth 86 billion euros ($97 billion).
The debt deal led to a split and a number of 25 Syriza lawmakers quit the party. It had come to power in January on a promise of rolling back existing austerity measures.
The opinion poll gives the renegades' party Popular Unity 3.5 percent support. That is just above the hurdle required to enter parliament.
The poll released on Friday also indicated that with more than three weeks to go before Greeks cast their ballot for the second time this year, over a quarter of the electorate are undecided.
Almost two-thirds of those asked said they believed Tsipras was wrong to call a snap election. But he remained the most popular political figure in the country, with 41 percent of voters saying they had a positive or very positive view of him.
Caretaker government sworn in
The business of running the country also continued on Friday, with the swearing-in of 65-year-old caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou. Along with a cabinet made up in part of technocrats, she is to lead the country into the election. President Prokopis Pavlopoulos confirmed that the poll would be held on September 20.
Although the caretaker administration is only set to be in power for a matter of weeks, it will be faced with having to implement several of the austerity measures agreed by Syriza in order to guarantee the bailout.
pfd/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)