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Greece: Left-wing opposition takes lead in poll

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A political party that opposes the harsh austerity measures imposed during Greece's financial crisis has taken a narrow lead in a closely monitored opinion poll.

The MRB tracking survey published by the news website real.gr Monday also found that more than 90 percent of Greeks feel pessimistic about the nation's economy. The opposition left-wing Syriza party led with 21.9 percent, and the center-right New Democracy which heads the coalition government, had 21 percent, the poll said.

The Dec. 2-11 survey of 2,000 people put the far-right Golden Dawn party in third place with 8.9 percent, roughly unchanged from six months ago. It was the first time that Syriza had finished first in such polls in more than a year.

Monday's poll said 94 percent of Greeks considered the country's situation "quite bad" or "very bad" — a jump of more than 10 points since June. The government and its bailout lenders are predicting the end of the severe six-year recession in 2014.

Greece has been surviving on international rescue loans set to total 240 billion euros ($330 billion) since 2010 and imposed drastic austerity measures during a crisis that has wiped out more than a fifth of the country's economic output and pushed unemployment up to more than 27 percent.

On Monday, bailout inspectors continued talks in Athens aimed at overcome sticking points in negotiations that have dragged on for months. The main obstacles remain how to lift protection for troubled mortgage holders and the future of the state-run arms maker Hellenic Defense Systems.

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