The slide in the government’s popularity was confirmed by a poll published yesterday which shows the opposition significantly narrowing the gap. The poll, by Metron Analysis agency and published in yesterday’s Ethnos daily, shows that 36.1 percent of respondents would favor the ruling New Democracy party in a general election versus 34.7 percent who would vote for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Another 6.9 percent expressed their preference for the Communist Party, 3.7 percent for hard-right Popular Orthodox Rally and 3.3 percent for Left Coalition. New Democracy’s lead over PASOK in Metron Analysis opinion polls has been shrinking steadily since last May, when it was at 7.7 percent (42.4 percent to 34.7 percent). In October 2004 the lead was 6.4 percent (40.5 percent to 34.1 percent), dropping to 4 percent (37.9 percent to 33.9 percent) in February 2005. The above figures show that, while New Democracy’s support is steadily eroding, PASOK’s is not picking up. New Democracy officials were quick to use this point to put their own spin. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters yesterday that he considers opinion polls as «useful analysis tools» and does not ordinarily comment on them. He did, however, comment yesterday. «It is very important that, in the government’s most difficult moment, when it was forced to take measures that are not very popular, the government is still leading,» Roussopoulos said. «The poll depicts the government’s rapid attrition… Just one year after the elections, the Karamanlis government… is reaping the results of its mistaken policies, lack of credibility and incompetence,» countered PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis. Respondents largely disapproved of the government’s performance: 51.1 percent declared themselves dissatisfied versus 25.8 percent who are satisfied and 22 percent who are neutral. However, they are even less satisfied with the opposition’s performance: 54.1 percent disapprove against only 15 percent who approve. What’s more, both parties’, and their leaders’ ratings, keep declining.