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Most Greeks favor privatizations to exit crisis: poll

ATHENS (Reuters) - The majority of Greeks see privatizations as necessary to get the country out of its debt crisis, backing government plans to sell state stakes in its industries to help pay down the national debt, a poll showed on Sunday.

Last month the socialist government laid out plans to sell stakes in key state firms, aiming to raise 50 billion euros from privatizations by 2015.

The poll by Public Issue for Kathimerini newspaper showed 74 percent of those asked thought privatizations were needed, with 69 percent saying a stronger private sector was necessary to get the 230 billion-euro economy back on track for growth.

Hurt by austerity measures to cut the budget deficit, Greece's economy is expected to contract by 3 percent in 2011, its third straight year of recession.

The paper said more than 60 percent of those polled agreed with privatizing state railway OSE and casinos and betting firm OPAP <OPAr.AT>.

More than 50 percent also favored similar action with Attica Bank <BOAr.AT> and Hellenic Postbank <GPSr.AT> but public opinion is split on privatizing gas company DEPA, regional airports, Hellenic Post and ATEbank <AGBr.AT>.

Even in the case of electricity utility Public Power Corp. (PPC) <DEHr.AT>, where unions are planning a rolling series of 48-hour strikes later this month to fight privatization plans, the poll showed increased approval for a sale -- 47 percent of those polled were in favor, up from 40 percent in a 2008 poll.

The government, which holds 51 percent of PPC, wants to sell as much as 17 percent of the company.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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