PASOK inching ahead of ND

The feared domestic impacts from the global economic crisis and the Vatopedi Monastery scandal appear to have taken their toll on the popularity of the government, as a new opinion poll shows PASOK edging ahead of New Democracy for the first time in several years. The survey, conducted by Public Issue on behalf of Skai and Kathimerini puts support for PASOK at 36 percent while New Democracy is on 35. The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) continues in third place with 12.5 percent, followed by the Communist Party on 8 percent and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) on 5 percent. The result means that none of the parties would have enough seats in Parliament to form a government on their own but suggests the Socialists have overtaken the ruling conservatives for the first time in some six years, according to Public Issue. ND has in fact increased its rating by 1 percent since the same pollster gauged public opinion in September, but over the last seven months its popularity has dropped by 2 percent. In the same period, support for PASOK rose by 5.5 percent, mostly at the expense of SYRIZA. During this time, the government has been plagued by a number of scandals and the latest of these, the controversial land exchange between the Vatopedi Monastery and the state, appears to have been particularly damaging. According to the poll, 93 percent of voters think politicians are involved in the affair and 83 percent believe that the state – and ultimately taxpayers – has been shortchanged in the deal. Eight in 10 respondents believe that a crime was committed but only 35 percent trust the justice system to get to the bottom of the matter. Nine in 10 Greeks appear to believe that the credit crisis gripping the USA and much of Europe will soon strike Greece. Although three-quarters of those questioned welcome the government’s recent moves, such as raising to 100,000 the guarantee on bank deposits, they also want the ruling conservatives to do more.