NEWS

Poll confirms ND lead

The fourth nationwide poll in recent weeks confirms that the opposition New Democracy party enjoys a comfortable lead over PASOK and that Prime Minister Costas Simitis and ND leader Costas Karamanlis are almost neck-and-neck as voters’ choice of prime minister. The latest six-monthly MRB poll found that if elections were held today, 38 percent of those polled would vote for ND and 29.7 percent for PASOK. Last December, 38.5 percent picked ND and 32.4 percent PASOK. The poll was conducted from May 20 to June 3 among 2,000 respondents. It found that 90.1 percent of ND’s voters had rallied round the party while only 70.8 percent of PASOK’s had done so. Furthermore, 18.2 percent of those polled did not reply, 5.3 percent said they would vote for the Communist Party and 3.9 percent for Synaspismos Left Coalition. Below the 3 percent threshold for entry into Parliament were the socialists DIKKI with 2.5 percent and extreme rightists LAOS with 2.4 percent. Karamanlis was picked by 40.1 percent as most suited to be prime minister, while Simitis followed with 38.8 percent (widening from 39.5 percent to 39.1 percent, respectively, in December). Last weekend, an ALKO poll showed ND ahead by 39.5 percent to PASOK’s 31.1 percent and Kapa Research gave them 39.5 percent and 31.7 percent each. A RASS poll published on May 27 suggested New Democracy enjoyed a lead of 9.8 percent. These polls also saw the two main-party leaders in a close race over who would be the best prime minister. Government officials stressed the polls were conducted at a difficult time for the ruling party, one year before elections are due. «With this poll, a cycle of polls at an especially difficult time for PASOK is ending,» said spokesman Christos Protopappas. «The polls express the concern and criticism of citizens, but for us the main issue is to continue our work,» he added. ND, though buoyed by the results, also put the emphasis on the road ahead. «The elections are decided at election time and polls are only useful work tools,» said the party’s political planning chief, Giorgos Souflias. MRB found Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyiannis, a senior ND member, to be the most popular politician (with 63.7 percent), followed by Foreign Minister George Papandreou (57.6 percent), Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis (51.1 percent), ND cadre Giorgos Souflias (50.1) and PASOK’s Athens-Piraeus governor, Fofi Yennimata (47.7 percent).