Poll spells trouble for the big two

If general elections were held today, no party would win enough votes to form a government on its own, according to an opinion poll that also shows voters to be split almost down the middle over the government’s privatization program. The Public Issue survey, conducted on behalf of Kathimerini and Skai, shows 37 percent support for New Democracy, 31 percent for PASOK, 17.5 percent for the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), 7 percent for the Communist Party, 4.5 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and 3 percent for various others. This means that backing for the ruling conservatives has not changed since last month but that support for PASOK has risen by 0.5 percent. More significantly however, were the parties that would gain these shares of the vote in a general election, which would mean that none would have a clear majority in the 300-seat Parliament. New Democracy would have 139 MPs, compared to the 142 seats they won at the polls last September. PASOK would have just 83 seats, SYRIZA a substantially increased haul of 47 MPs, the Communist Party 19 seats and LAOS 12. The change in the political landscape has mainly been brought about by the rising popularity of SYRIZA and its young leader Alexis Tsipras. Tsipras is now seen as the second most suitable candidate for prime minister. Costas Karamanlis remained in first place with the support of 39 percent of those questioned. Support for the SYRIZA leader rose from 13 to 17 percent, which means he has overtaken PASOK leader George Papandreou, who dropped to 13 percent. Although the government appears to have the public’s support on its closer ties with Russia – 83 percent of the 1,013 respondents are in agreement – it has not yet completely won over opinion on its privatization program. For example, 56 percent are against plans to privatize OTE telecom and 48 percent do not agree with the possibility of selling off Olympic Airlines. In fact, none of the privatization projects received more than 43 percent support.