Greece’s ruling party in early elections lead

GREECE’S ruling PASOK socialist party was ahead in most regions in crucial local elections yesterday, an official estimate showed, in a boost for Prime Minister George Papandreou as he seeks support for harsh austerity measures.

Papandreou has threatened to dissolve parliament, barely a year after coming to power, if the first round of the regional elections fails to give him a clear mandate to pursue budget cuts and reforms agreed in May under a €110bn (£95.5bn) EU/IMF bailout to save Greece from bankruptcy.

It was unclear whether Papandreou would judge that voters had given him sufficient endorsement. In the 2009 national elections, PASOK won in all 13 regions.

An opinion poll by pollster GPO for Mega TV, conducted on Saturday, showed 61 per cent of voters said they would cast a protest vote against the government.

A survey by PASOK showed their candidate leading in Attica, the key wider Athens region. A rebel MP, ousted from the party’s parliamentary group for voting against the EU/IMF bailout that saved Greece from bankruptcy, had previously been seen ahead.

“I am not glued to my post. I am only interested in fighting for my country ... It’s up to the citizens to decide whom they trust to govern the country,” Papandreou told Ethnos newspaper in an interview published yesterday.

Greece is widely seen as one of the weakest of the Eurozone countries.