Voters critical of main parties

As opinion polls show the Greek public to be increasingly critical of both main political parties, sources told Kathimerini over the weekend that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is preparing a reshuffle to inject new life into ruling New Democracy but has no plans for early elections. According to an opinion poll carried out by Public Issue for Kathimerini, 74 percent of voters believe that ND is «going through a crisis» while 45 percent think the main opposition PASOK «needs a leadership change.» More than half (56 percent) of those questioned said they believed the ruling party was «dependent on vested interests» – with just 15 percent drawing the same conclusion for PASOK. Only 14 percent said they thought ND was unified. However, Karamanlis appears to have retained his appeal among voters with 39 percent saying that ND has «a capable leader» as opposed to 23 percent making the same assessment for PASOK leader George Papandreou. The difference between the popularity of the two main parties is significantly smaller though, according to opinion polls. A survey by MRB Hellas shows opposition PASOK just ahead of ND by 0.1 percent, attracting 29.4 percent of voters as compared to 29.3 percent for the ruling party. At the end of last week a Kappa Research survey put ND’s lead just 0.7 percent ahead of the Socialist opposition. Faced with such poll results, and with only a slender majority in Parliament, Karamanlis is said to be planning a bold reshuffle, although sources could not say when this is likely to occur. All eyes will be on the premier today when he chairs a session of ND’s parliamentary group. A rebel New Democracy deputy, who criticized several of the premier’s aides, was dismissed from this group early last week, reducing the government’s parliamentary majority to just one. However, the subsequent request of Stavros Dailakis to be reinstated in the group, alternatively offering to resign, effectively bumped the government’s majority back up to two in the 300-seat Parliament.