ND, Karamanlis lead in poll

An opinion poll conducted in the last week of February has given the opposition New Democracy party a boost, suggesting that it enjoys a 7.5 percent lead over the ruling PASOK party. Furthermore, ND leader Costas Karamanlis is seen by 34.4 percent of respondents as being the more fit candidate for prime minister, compared to the 32.8 percent who opted for PM Costas Simitis. The nationwide poll by ALCO was conducted among 2,000 respondents between February 21-28 for the daily Apogevmatini newspaper, which published it yesterday. It found that 38.3 percent of respondents would vote for ND if elections were held today (compared to 37.9 percent in June 2002), but only 30.8 percent for PASOK (compared to 29.5 percent in June). The Communist Party was given 5.0 percent (from 5.2 percent), followed by Synaspismos Left Coalition with 3.1 percent (from 2.8 percent), the Democratic Socialist Movement (DIKKI) with 1.8 percent (from 2.2 percent) and the newly formed extreme-right LAOS with 1.5 percent. Something that is sure to alarm the government further is that 5.1 percent of ND’s voters appear to be coming from PASOK’s ranks while only 0.9 percent seem to be moving from the conservatives to PASOK. The poll also asked which leader would be best to lead PASOK to victory. Simitis was picked by 41 percent of all party voters and 59 percent of PASOK voters, followed by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, with 25.4 percent among all voters and 22.6 percent among PASOK voters. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos was third with 2.4 percent among all voters and PASOK voters. Also, 53.4 percent of all voters and 64.5 percent of PASOK voters saw Papandreou as the best successor for Simitis, followed by Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos (7.3 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively).

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