Voters not convinced by reforms

A clear majority of Greeks disagree with the pension reforms that are set to be rubber-stamped in Parliament on Wednesday but, despite the apparent dissatisfaction with the government’s policies, opposition party PASOK seems unable to capitalize on this, according to a new poll. The survey, conducted by Public Issue for Sunday’s Kathimerini, indicates that 73 percent of people feel that the changes being brought in by the ruling conservatives will «probably harm» them. Only 6 percent think they will benefit from the reforms, which included the merging of dozens of funds and some trimming back of benefits. Almost six in 10 of the respondents feel that the governments pension reforms are «probably in the wrong direction.» Only half of the New Democracy voters questioned said they felt the changes were «probably in the right direction.» The buildup to last week’s parliamentary debate on the reforms was marked by a series of strikes, which, although disruptive, seem to have the public’s backing. Almost eight in 10 of those questioned said that they back nationwide strikes as an acceptable form of protest against government decisions that are objectionable. Three-quarters of voters said that workers need unions to protect their rights. However, the apparent unrest has not translated into support for PASOK, which is looking to get down to the business of opposition after electing a new secretary and political council late on Friday night. Most voters (51 percent) believe that the Socialists will have to wait more than four years before they return to power. The survey also makes painful reading for PASOK leader George Papandreou, who wanted to use this period, which included his party’s conference, to stamp his authority and re-energize voters with his message. Half of the respondents felt that nothing would change in the party following the conference. The Public Issue poll indicates that more people feel that PASOK needs a change of leadership now than they did last October, following the Socialists’ poor showing in the general election. Six in 10 voters (61 percent) now believe that PASOK should change its leader. In October, this figure stood at 47 percent. Papandreou suffered a blow Friday night when his choice for party secretary, Yiannis Ragoussis, received the support of only 58 percent of national council members, compared to around 80 percent that his two preferred candidates received in previous years.

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