Greece: Pro-bailout parties have slim lead

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Greek Socialist Party leader Evangelos Venizelos speaks during an election campaign rally at an indoor arena near Athens,Thursday April 19 2012. Venizelos, whose party has been hammered in opinion polls ahead of May 6 general election, said a vote for anti-bailout parties could wreck the recovery effort in the crisis-hit country. (AP Photo)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's conservatives lead their socialist rivals by between 4 and 7 percent, according to the last opinion polls before the May 6 general election — barely enough support to continue a coalition backing the crisis-hit country's bailout deals.

Surveys for three daily newspapers published Friday indicate that the number of parties elected to parliament will rise from five to 10.

Potential newcomers include the violent extreme right Golden Dawn party, signaling growing public anger toward to the rescue deals that have pushed the country into a fifth year of recession.

The socialist Pasok and conservative New Democracy parties — which have governed Greece for nearly four decades — have been uneasy partners in a five-month coalition formed under former central banker Lucas Papademos.

Papademos negotiated massive debt restructuring agreements with banks and a second bailout package with eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, that were vital for avoiding default.

A poll for the Athens daily Ethnos gave New Democracy 21.9 percent, and Pasok 17.8 percent — giving them a combined total of 155 seats in the 300-member parliament, compared with their current total of 201.

Separate surveys published Friday in the Athens dailies Ta Nea and Eleftheros Typos produced broadly similar findings, but with one of the polls giving New Democracy a 7-point advantage.

Ethnos' Marketing Research Communication poll of 1,001 people on April 17-19 projected that three bitterly divided left-wing parties will receive 29 percent, that conservative splinter groups will get 17.6 percent, and Golden Dawn will garner as much as 5.2 percent — an 18-fold increase in support since the 2009 general election.

No margin of error was quoted.

Parliament in 2009 approved legislation banning the publication of opinion polls 15 days before the date of general elections, European Parliament elections, and referendums. Polling organizations have repeatedly called on lawmakers to amend the law.