ND retains lead in last opinion polls

The last opinion polls made public ahead of the two-week pre-electoral ban that begins tomorrow, suggest that the conservative New Democracy party is cementing its lead over ruling PASOK, with the gap ranging from 4.2 percent to 2.9 percent. In the same period ahead of the 2000 elections, PASOK appeared to be ahead by 0.5 percent to a little over 1 percent and won the election by a margin of 1 percent after surging from behind in the last weeks. A nationwide poll among 1,122 people conducted on Feb. 11-18 by the VPRC company for Kathimerini and Skai radio, which used the ballot system, found that if elections were held today, ND would get 42.5 percent, PASOK 38.3 percent, the Communist Party 4.4 percent, Synaspismos Left Coalition 2.6 percent, and DIKKI and LAOS both 1.3 percent. Analysts said that the significance of this poll was that ND appeared to have cemented its lead over PASOK following the Socialists’ change of leader. In December, before Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced that he would step aside for Foreign Minister George Papandreou to take over PASOK, ND was getting 38.7 percent and PASOK 30.8 percent. This 7.9 percent difference was cut to 4.3 percent (ND 42.6 percent and PASOK 38.3 percent) in January, when the changeover was announced. But significantly, the gap has remained steady since then. The smaller leftist parties, however, have lost support since December. The poll found 45 percent preferred Papandreou for prime minister, over 40 percent who chose ND leader Costas Karamanlis. The poll found also that PASOK is losing voters to ND, with 12.7 percent of those who voted for the Socialists in 2000 saying they will vote for the conservatives while only 2.7 percent of ND voters are headed for PASOK. Only about 78 percent of those who voted PASOK in 2000 are ready to vote for it again, while for ND this comes to 92.7 percent. A Metron Analysis poll made public yesterday gives ND 40.2 percent and PASOK 37.3 percent, a lead of 2.9 percent, up from 2.7 percent a week earlier. Papandreou yesterday presented his economic plan.