New poll jolts government

Voters are growing increasingly unhappy with the performance of the government, according to the results of a poll made public yesterday which indicated there was support for a Cabinet reshuffle but not for early elections. The survey, conducted by VPRC on behalf of Skai radio station, found that 75 percent of those questioned were not satisfied with the work of New Democracy, which came to power in March last year. Although 80 percent said they were not impressed by PASOK either, the ruling conservatives will have been jolted by the fact that their approval ratings have dropped several percentage points since last month, while those of the Socialists have risen. Speaking to his party’s MPs yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis attempted to rally support around the reforms in which the conservatives have placed much faith. «The citizens have given us a clear order: to change things. To decisively confront the problems which have gathered and grown during the last few years. To clash head-on with yesterday’s views and attitudes,» he said before making special reference to the government’s reform of public utilities. However, Karamanlis is likely to have been concerned that the poll showed a change in the way people said they intend to vote in the next general elections. ND is still in front with 42 percent but only 2.5 percent ahead of PASOK as opposed to 3.5 percent last month. «The reality that is being formed each day is very specific, and I hope it will be increasingly evident in other company’s polls as well,» said PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis. There seems to be no great urgency among voters for elections to be held soon. More than two-thirds said they want to see the Karamanlis government see out its four-year term. «People want us to continue firmly along the road of change and reform,» Karamanlis told his deputies. The poll did suggest, however, that the prime minister should make some changes in his Cabinet – 54 percent of those questioned said that they were in favor of a Cabinet reshuffle. Only 26 percent said that things should remain as they are. Karamanlis has so far said that he does not intend to make any changes in his Cabinet.