ND lead steady at 8.2 pct, poll finds

Less than five months ahead of the election, the Socialist government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis still significantly trails conservative New Democracy, according to the latest poll published yesterday by research company MRB. Respondents to MRB’s biannual survey gave a clear lead to New Democracy over the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), 38.9 percent to 30.7 percent. Two other parties, the Communist Party (5.1 percent) and the Left Coalition (3.6 percent) surpass the 3 percent limit required to enter Parliament, while the hard-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) is close, with 2.7 percent. The Democratic Socialist Movement gets 2.1 percent. Seventeen percent of respondents were undecided. In the previous biannual survey, published in June, New Democracy’s lead was 8.3 percent, an indication that it is consolidating. An interim survey, in September, had put the lead at 7.8 percent. Simitis still has a slight advantage (40.3 percent to 39.7 percent) over ND leader Costas Karamanlis as best candidate for premier. Results of the poll had been leaked earlier this week by Avriani newspaper, prompting a sharp reaction by government spokesman Christos Protopapas. Ministers also reacted sharply yesterday to a call by industrialists for early elections coupled with criticism of government policies.