The ruling conservatives yesterday received timely encouragement ahead of the October local elections as an opinion poll put New Democracy a comfortable 4 percent ahead of its main rival PASOK and seemed to indicate that confidence in the Socialists is waning. According to the survey by VPRC on behalf of Skai TV and Radio, if general elections were held tomorrow, ND would win by a difference of 4 percent. This is the same lead that pollsters found when they questioned voters in July. However, there has been a sizable shift in people’s thinking about who will win the next elections, which are to be held by March 2008. The poll suggests that 7 percent more people now think that the conservatives will win compared to two months ago. Eight percent fewer of those polled think PASOK will win. In fact, only 15 percent of Greeks appear to believe that the Socialists can reverse the current situation and win in the next polls. Also, George Papandreou’s party is likely to be worried by the fact that eight in 10 voters said they were disappointed with PASOK. Papandreou’s ratings also slipped slightly. The results of the VPRC survey were made public some five weeks before voters are due to cast their ballots in municipal and mayoral elections. The October 15 polls will be a test of the popularity of both parties and are likely to influence tactics and policies in the runup to the next general elections. Meanwhile, PASOK MPs yesterday walked out of a parliamentary committee investigating the phone-tapping scandal. They accused New Democracy Deputy Anastassios Karamarios of breaching parliamentary rules by not allowing more witnesses to appear before the committee. Karamarios said that based on a majority vote in July, before Parliament entered its summer session, the committee had decided to end its proceedings without hearing from anymore witnesses.