London: Greece is likely to secure its precarious future in the eurozone as polls show the country’s hard-left government is on course for a surprise defeat in a general election later this month.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who called a snap vote in August, has seen his party’s 15-point lead evaporate in just six weeks, putting the centre-right New Democracy in pole position to form a coalition government.
New Democracy, which supports Greece’s membership of the euro at all costs, edged ahead of Syriza for the first time since May 2014 in two polls this week.
One survey carried out by Metron Analysis on Friday saw ND in the lead with 24pc of the vote, against 23.4pc for the incumbent Leftists.
Mr Tsipras is on course to be punished by the electorate after he capitulated to strict bail-out conditions to keep the country in the euro.
With polls suggesting no majority government will be formed after the ballot on September 20, analysts expect the pro-bailout conservatives, who dominated Greek politics before Syriza’s landmark election win in January, to form a more stable, broad-based coalition, dramatically reducing the risks of a future eurozone exit.
Greece’s smaller pro-euro parties, Pasok and To Potami (“The River”), are also more inclined to join a coalition headed by ND’s Evangelos Meimarakis rather than the tainted Mr Tsipras.
George Saravelos at Deutsche Bank said: “Greece’s willingness to constructively, rather than confrontationally, engage with creditors will ultimately determine whether eurozone membership can be sustained. After a new government is sworn in, however, the ingredients are likely to be in place for gradual programme implementation.”
Syriza is now a shadow of the radical force that swept to power vowing to rip up the country’s austerity contract.
When he called the vote last month, Mr Tsipras said that he realised the time had come for a fresh election.
“The political mandate of the January 25 elections has exhausted its limits and now the Greek people have to have their say,” he said in a televised address. He said he felt a “deep moral” obligation to lay his actions before the judgment of the Greek people.
“I want to submit to the Greek people everything I have done (since taking office in January) so that they can decide once more.”
Since taking office, Mr Tsipras has led the Greek nation on a collision course with its creditors, as he and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis attempted to play a game of bluff with lenders as to how much of its debt it will have to repay.
The game culminated with a national referendum on the country’s relationship with Europe, which backed Syriza’s stance, only for Mr Tsipras to capitulate to his European masters by agreeing a new deal to release euros 82-86bn.
More than 25 hard-left MPs have left Syriza to form the rebel Popular Unity party. However, they are not expected to gain more than 8pc of the vote.
Despite the onerous cost of its third bail-out in five years, and an economy back into recession, pro-euro sentiment in Greece is still more than 70pc.