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Published: Thursday March 20, 2014 MYT 5:53:04 PM
Updated: Thursday March 20, 2014 MYT 5:54:26 PM

Greek opposition widens opinion poll lead before EU elections

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's anti-austerity opposition widened its opinion poll lead over the ruling conservatives ahead of European elections in May that are viewed as a litmus test of support for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' shaky coalition.

Leftist Syriza, which opposes Greece's EU/IMF bailout and the tough conditions that come with it, would get 19 percent of the vote if EU elections were held now, two points ahead of Samaras' New Democracy, the poll showed on Thursday.

The survey by Pulse for the To Pontiki newspaper was carried out on March 17 and 18, as Athens wrapped up six months of wrangling with its international creditors to unblock the next tranche of rescue loans.

Greece's two bailouts since 2010, worth 240 billion euros, have come at the price of wage and pension cuts and tax rises. Thousands of businesses have closed during a six-year recession and unemployment has hit 27.5 percent, more than double the euro zone average.

The far-right Golden Dawn party, many of whose lawmakers are under criminal investigation following the killing of an anti-fascist rapper by a party sympathiser last September, remained the third most popular political force with 10 percent.

It tied with To Potami, a party launched by a popular TV journalist less than a month ago.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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