A nationwide opinion poll published by Kathimerini today suggests that New Democracy is cementing a wide lead of nearly 8 percent over the ruling PASOK party, despite the recent government announcement of some 2.6 billion euros’ worth of social policies believed to affect a third of the population. This result echoes that of recent polls. And like the others, it also found incumbent Costas Simitis the more fitting candidate for prime minister, giving him 38.1 percent to ND leader Costas Karamanlis’s 36.8 percent. Karamanlis, as a party leader, though, got an approval rating of 52.8 percent (with 37.6 expressing disapproval), while Simitis was approved of by 47.2 percent and disapproved of by 46.7 percent. The poll, conducted by V-PRC among 1,193 adults between Sept. 10-24, suggests that 37.4 percent would vote for New Democracy if elections were held today, with 29.7 percent voting for PASOK, a difference of 7.7 percent. In May 2002, the same company found a difference of 8.8 percent, giving ND 36.2 percent and PASOK 27.4 percent. The latest poll gave the Communist Party 4.5 percent, while others dropped below the 3 percent threshold needed to get seats in Parliament: Synaspismos Left Coalition got 2.8 percent, the far right-wing LAOS 2.3 percent and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) 1.6 percent. Another 3.4 percent said they would vote for other parties; 2.1 percent said they were undecided; 0.2 percent said they would not vote; 4.7 percent would cast blank or spoiled ballots and 11.4 percent did not reply. The poll found that 13.5 percent of people who voted for PASOK in 2000 would vote for ND now, while only 2.4 percent who voted for ND would back PASOK. One third of respondents said they were affected directly by the government’s social package and Convergence Charter, two major programs aimed at helping parts of the population. Voters’ main concerns were unemployment (34.2 percent), the economy (17.1 percent), and inflation and high prices (10.3 percent), while only 2.1 percent were concerned with foreign policy and 2 percent with foreigners and illegal immigrants, while 1.2 percent were concerned with bad public administration.