Poll suggests handouts could fail

The government appeared to be disturbed by the publication yesterday of an opinion poll which showed that, despite the social spending that it has promised, it is still trailing the New Democracy party by 7.7 percent. The second part of the nationwide poll by V-PRC, published by Kathimerini today, shows that 33.8 percent of 1,193 people polled (the equivalent of 2.37 million voters) said that even though the government’s measures had a direct effect on them this would not affect the way they will vote in the elections. But more than half of those polled said the measures would affect the way citizens voted. Elections must be held by May. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas went so far as to claim the poll was stale, even though it was conducted between Sept. 10-24. Behind the scenes, though, PASOK officials are trying to work out new ways to present the handouts and social programs as they do not appear to have helped change the inclinations of voters, with 60.8 percent of those polled saying they were not happy with their contents. The poll found that 52.1 percent of those questioned did not grade the government’s past four years as positive, believing that Greece is headed in the wrong direction. Some 60 percent believe that in the past year Greece’s position in the world has stayed the same or weakened, despite the fact that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had invested politically in Cyprus’s accession to the EU and Greece’s EU presidency earlier this year. Only some 31.3 percent of those polled believe the State is functioning better now than it did five years ago. According to the poll, 37.4 percent of voters would back ND if elections were held today, with 29.7 percent voting for PASOK. It found also that ND would make a «more effective government» than PASOK (24.6 percent to 18.7 percent). The opposition was even seen as more effective than PASOK in the field of social policy and combating terrorism, despite the government’s «social package» and crushing of the November 17 group. ND trails PASOK with regard to Greek-Turkish relations, entry into the eurozone and Olympic preparations.

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