Jobless haunt PASOK

The latest nationwide opinion poll published in the runup to the elections shows, like almost all polls over the past two years, the opposition New Democracy party enjoying a wide lead over ruling PASOK. But the MRB poll published by Kathimerini yesterday had further bad news for the government: The majority of those polled believe the conservatives are more capable of dealing with what voters themselves see as the country’s most important problems. The poll, conducted among 2,000 people from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8, found that 39.3 percent of those polled would vote for ND if elections were held now, and 31.5 percent for PASOK. In June, ND led by 38 percent to 29.7 percent and last December by 38.5 to 32.4 percent. The latest poll suggested that 16.1 percent were still undecided, would cast blank ballots or would not reply to the question. The Communist Party would get 6 percent, followed by Synaspismos Left Coalition with 3.4 percent if elections were held today, with other parties well below the 3 percent threshold for parliamentary entry. The poll also gave ND leader Costas Karamanlis a slight lead over Costas Simitis as to who is the most capable to be prime minister, with 41.9 percent opting for the opposition leader, compared to 41.2 percent for the incumbent. The poll had a margin of error of just over 2 percent. Respondents listed the country’s most pressing problems as unemployment (67.4 percent), inflation and high prices (50.4 percent), health (38.7 percent), education (30.8 percent), narcotics (15.6 percent), economic development (14.5 percent) and immigrants (11.6 percent). The bottom of the list included foreign policy (3.1 percent), terrorism (2.4 percent), environmental pollution (2.3 percent), economic convergence with the EU (1.7 percent), organizing the Olympics (0.8 percent) and Church-State relations (0.7 percent). It was not clear whether the lack of interest in the latter issues was due to any communications failure by the government or because people felt things were not going too badly in these fields. However, 36.5 percent think ND can fight unemployment more capably than can PASOK (25.7 percent), and 40.1 percent expect the opposition to do better in health than the government (27.4 percent). Overall 41.6 percent think ND more capable of solving the country’s problems, compared to 34.1 percent for PASOK and 21.2 percent who think neither is capable.