Survey Says: Greeks Oppose FYROM Name Deal, Back New Democracy

Protestors opposing to "North Macedonia's" name wave Greek flags outside parliament in Athens, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019 (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is set to likely win his deal to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia but it’s cost him the support of most Greeks who are backing the major rival New Democracy with elections this year.

A poll published by Proto Thema showed 66 percent of people opposed to the agreement giving away the name of the ancient Greek province in letting FYROM be called North Macedonia, its citizens Macedonians with a Macedonian language, culture and identity, and Greece lifting a veto keeping the country out of NATO and opening European Union talks.

The survey also gave New Democracy under Kyriakos Mitsotakis a 32-23.1 percent lead, enough to elect a majority 158 Members of Parliament without needing a coalition partner as SYRIZA did before the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) quit.

The opinion poll, by the Marc firm, coincided with a Jan. 20 protest in downtown Athens against FYROM name deal that Tsipras said he brought to end a more than 27-year name feud between the countries.

Some 67.4 percent of respondents in the poll said a snap general election should be held no later than May, when local and European Parliament elections are scheduled. They must be held by October this year.

The findings also gave the Movement for Change (KINAL) and the ultra-extreme right Golden Dawn 6.4 percent in a tie for third, with the KKE Communists in this usual position at fifth with 5.9 percent.

No other party hit the 3 percent threshold needed to get into Parliament again, which will leave out the centrist To Potami (The River) that is breaking up, the Union of Centrists and ANEL, seeing them out of power.