May 19, 2013
Greeks feel new austerity measures are unfair
An overwhelming majority of Greeks believe new austerity measures the government has promised its international lenders in exchange for more financial aid are unfair and hurt the poorest sections of society, a poll showed.
Near-bankrupt Greece needs the European Union and International Monetary Fund's blessing on measures worth nearly 12 billion euros to unlock its next tranche of aid, without which it faces default and a potential exit from the euro zone.
The conservative-led coalition is struggling to strike a balance between demands from its international lenders and angry voters who see no light at the end of the austerity tunnel.
More than 90 percent of Greeks believe the planned spending cuts and reforms are unfair and burden the poor, a survey by polling agency MRB for Sunday's edition of Realnews showed.
Still, about 67 percent of those polled want Greece to stay in the euro. Speculation of Greece exiting the single currency has receded since Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's pro-euro, pro-bailout government took power in June, but remains alive as Athens struggles to meet its bailout targets.
In an interview with Greek daily Kathimerini, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti - who is also pushing through contested reforms in his country - urged Athens to stay the course on austerity and assured Greeks the euro zone was not looking to cut Greece loose.
"A Greek exit from the euro area is a scenario that nobody contemplates," he told the newspaper's Sunday edition.
"Greece has already made a lot of progress and must continue the solid process of fiscal discipline and structural reforms because this is in its best interest."
So far, Greece's government has reached agreement on 9.5 billion euros of the spending cuts - the bulk of it from slashing wages, pensions and welfare benefits.
Athens also plans an increase in the retirement age to 67 from 65 and cuts in military and health spending.