While the conservative New Democracy party is steadily increasing its popularity and about 55 percent of the electorate expects ND to win the next polls, the current, socialist Cabinet is generally seen as more competent than the main opposition party’s untried shadow ministers, a new poll indicated yesterday. Ruling PASOK latched onto the comparison to argue that the poll printed in yesterday’s Ta Nea daily showed strong popular faith in its own officials. «The Greek people only look to us,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. «The answers [in the poll] represent a catalytic picture in favor of the government’s cadres.» He then caused outrage in ND by claiming that democracy was only fully established in Greece by PASOK in 1981, adding that under conservative governance (from 1974-81) there was a problem of democratic «quality.» According to the survey of 1,155 people carried out in mainland Greece between May 13-24 by V-PRC pollsters on behalf of the pro-government daily (with the headline «New Democracy is Losing the Battle of Cadres»), were elections to be held now, ND would receive 36.2 percent of the vote, 8.8 percent ahead of PASOK’s 27.4 percent. The Communists would come third at 4.8 percent, with all other parties floundering under the 3 percent threshold for parliamentary representation. The Left Coalition (Synaspismos) came fourth at 2.8, and outgoing Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos’s Movement of Free Citizens (KEP) slid to its lowest so far, ending fifth at 2.7 percent. Some 54.8 percent predicted an ND victory were elections to be held now, while 22.7 percent rooted for PASOK. An amazing 6.3 percent voiced the opinion that neither party would win. All this confirmed ND’s steady jump in popularity since they lost the April 9, 2000 national elections. The V-PRC poll, however, restored PM Costas Simitis to the lead in opinions of who is best suited to rule the country. He got 36.1 percent of the vote, just ahead of ND leader Costas Karamanlis’s 35.3 percent. But on a list of 11 ministries, PASOK incumbents were voted as more competent than their ND opposition in all but two cases.