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Greek Socialists keep lead despite austerity: poll

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's ruling Socialists are maintaining a comfortable lead over their conservative opponents despite unpopular austerity cuts, a poll showed on Sunday.

The poll by Alco for To Thema newspaper, conducted after a cabinet reshuffle, showed the Socialists would win 34.6 percent of the vote versus 25.6 percent for the conservatives, roughly in line with other polls last month.

Under pressure from the EU and IMF, and rising borrowing costs, the Socialist-led government has cut public sectors wages, frozen pensions and raised taxes, aiming to cut the budget deficit by 5 percentage points this year to 8.1 percent of GDP.

The nationwide poll among 1,000 respondents showed 64 percent of those polled thought this policy was not appropriate to take the country out of the crisis.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister George Papandreou reshuffled his cabinet to better deal with measures to repair public finances under an EU/IMF bailout plan, signaling he would stay the fiscal course by leaving his finance minister in place.

Ratings for both parties were slightly higher than in a previous poll by Alco in April, before Greece signed a bailout deal with the EU and the IMF and agreed to painful spending cuts and tax hikes.

The April poll showed PASOK with 32.1 percent of support and the conservatives 22.1 percent.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Janet Lawrence)

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