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Tsipras renews bailout axe pledge

The leader of a left-wing party in Greece has renewed a pledge to scrap the country's bailout commitments after retaking a lead in opinion polls ahead of crucial national elections on June 17.

A survey gave the Syriza party an estimated 30% of the vote, followed by the pro-bailout conservative New Democracy party at 26.5%.

Failure by the two parties to reach a power-sharing agreement after elections on May 6 triggered the repeat poll next month.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said during a campaign speech near Athens: "We insist that you can either implement the bailout deal or overturn it. We will overturn it as soon as parliament opens."

Greece has been surviving for the past two years on rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, in exchange for harsh austerity measures that have pushed the country into a fifth year of recession with rapidly rising unemployment and economic hardship.

If Athens reneges on its international bailout commitments, it could see the vital loans dry up and eventually have to abandon the euro.

In Brussels, EU finance commissioner Olli Rehn said he had "respect for democratic politics" in Greece, but added: "Concerning the EU-IMF programme for economic reform and fiscal adjustment, it aims at bringing Greece back to recovery and growth.

"We see this as a pact of solidarity between the rest of the euro-area and ... the Greek parliament and people. From our point of view, it is important that all parties of this solidarity pact respect their respective commitments."

The VPRC poll for Epikaira magazine, published on Wednesday, surveyed 1,011 people between May 25 and 29 and had a 3.1% margin of error. It suggests that the extreme right Golden Dawn party would again receive parliamentary representation with a projected 4.5% of the vote.

In the May 6 election, Syriza was the surprise runner-up to New Democracy in the inconclusive vote, while Golden Dawn received nearly 7% support.

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