Most Greeks say government crackdown on tax evaders failing: poll

ATHENS Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:21am IST

Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras leaves the party's main election kiosk in Athens' Syntagma square June 17, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras leaves the party's main election kiosk in Athens' Syntagma square June 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

ATHENS (Reuters) - More than two-thirds of Greeks say their government is failing to fight tax evasion, a poll showed on Saturday, a major focus of popular discontent along with austerity measures imposed to unlock bailout aid.

Almost 68 percent of respondents in a Kapa Research/To Vima poll said the ruling coalition of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was not doing enough to catch tax dodgers.

The poll was taken on December 20-21, a week before prosecutors said that the names of relatives of former finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, had been removed from a list of 2,062 possible tax cheats with Swiss bank accounts.

Papaconstantinou, who negotiated Greece's first EU/IMF bailout in 2010, has denied tampering with the list. He is facing a parliamentary investigation, a first step under Greek law to possibly stripping him of his immunity as a former cabinet member.

In the poll, the main opposition Syriza party led Samaras's New Democracy by 22.6 percent to 21.5 percent. Socialist PASOK, the three-party coalition's second-biggest member which ejected Papaconstantinou from its ranks on Friday, scored 6.2 percent - about half its election score in June.

The latest 49 billion euros ($65 billion) in bailout funds Samaras secured on December 13 failed to impress voters. Almost 71 percent said they were no more optimistic after Europe's decision to keep bankrolling their country.

However, 59 percent said the government should be given more time - more than twice as many as the 28 percent who wanted immediate elections - and about 46 percent said Samaras was a more suitable prime minister than opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, head of leftist, anti-austerity Syriza.

About 77 percent of respondents said Greece should remain in the euro and just 16 percent backed a return to the country's national currency, the drachma.

($1 = 0.7564 euros)

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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