PASOK, ND jostling for votes

The leaders roman of the two main parties scaled up their rhetoric over the weekend with each insisting that they would prevail in upcoming general elections as the latest opinion poll showed conservative New Democracy to have slipped in its lead while Socialist PASOK has gained support under the leadership of former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

In an interview published in Sunday’s Kathimerini, ND leader Antonis Samaras insisted that an autonomous government would be ?the best scenario? for the debt-wracked country, noting that ?right now only New Democracy can achieve this.? ?Untie my hands so that I can govern,? he said, noting that his party would strive to avoid new cuts to pensions and further recession-deepening measures foreign creditors have asked for in June.

Venizelos struck a similar tone in an interview with Ethnos newspaper on Sunday, insisting that PASOK ?must be in the front line? of the next government if the country is to emerge from the crisis.

The results of the latest opinion poll by Public Issue showed that support for the beleaguered Socialist party has inched up. Backing for PASOK rose 4.5 percentage points to 15.5 percent while ND slipped 2.5 percentage points to 22.5 percent. Together, the two main parties would gain around 38 percent of the vote, which would probably allow them to scrape together enough seats in Parliament to form a coalition.

The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) would draw 12.5 percent of the vote, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Democratic Left 12 percent each, and the Independent Greeks, founded by ousted ND deputy Panos Kammenos, 8.5 percent, according to the poll which sees the neo-fascist Chrysi Avgi attracting 5 percent of the vote, comfortably over the 3 percent minimum needed to enter Parliament. Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), which left the governing coalition in February, would fail to enter Parliament, according to the poll which was conducted on a sample of 1,017 people from March 22 to 26.

Clashes within PASOK continued over the weekend, with former minister and ousted deputy Vasso Papandreou telling Real News that although ND ?led Greece to disaster,? it was PASOK ?that finished it off.? PASOK responded by accusing the party stalwart of having a ?selective memory.