Greece's conservative New Democracy party has regained the lead in opinion polls, boosting its chances of forming a pro-bailout government committed to keeping the country in the euro zone, new surveys have showed.
Polls released before Saturday had shown pro- and anti-bailout parties running neck-and-neck ahead of the June 17 elections, which could determine the country's future in the continent's fiscal union.
Elections held in May failed to produce a clear winner and left parliament divided evenly between groups of parties that support and oppose the austerity conditions.
Greece has to meet those conditions in order to secure a $162bn bailout agreed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in March.
After the inconclusive polls, Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the carateker prime minister, was appointed to lead the country to the June 17 elections.
Five polls published by newspapers over the weekend showed New Democracy, which supports the bailout, leading with between 0.5 and 5.7 points over the anti-bailout leftist Syriza party.
New Democracy would get between 25.6 per cent and 27.7 per cent of the vote if the election was held today, according to the polls by Eleftheros Typos/Pulse, Proto Thema/Alco, Real News/MRB, To Vima/Kapa and Ethnos/MARC.
Syriza's support was between 20.1 and 26 per cent.
According to the Pulse and MARC polls, New Democracy and the next-biggest pro-bailout party, the socialist Pasok party, would together win a parliamentary majority of between 11 and 16 seats in the country's 300-seat parliament.
The Reuters news agency quoted analysts as saying the race was still too close to call.
Syriza says it would ditch the bailout deal that has led to record unemployment and severe wage cuts.
But Germany and other lenders have said they would cut the country's funding if it took such a step. That could lead to bankruptcy and possibly force Greece to leave the euro.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|
|William A. Cook|