PASOK builds on opinion poll lead over ND

PASOK has extended its lead over the government to 3.5 percent, amid criticism of the way that the ruling conservatives are handling the financial crisis, according to a new opinion poll. Last month, the Socialists overtook New Democracy for the first time in the polls since George Papandreou took over the leadership of PASOK in 2004 but this month that lead has grown from 1 percent to 3.5 percent. According to the Public Issue poll carried out on behalf of Kathimerini and Skai TV and Radio, 37.5 percent of those asked said they would vote for PASOK as opposed to 34 percent for ND. The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) garners 7.5 percent, the Communist Party 7.5 percent and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 5 percent. Also, the survey puts the Ecologists on 3 percent, which would be enough for them to win eight parliamentary seats. This is significant, as it means that PASOK would win 138 seats, which would not be enough to form a government on its own but it could form a coalition government with SYRIZA, which would be awarded 32 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. New Democracy would have 89 MPs. Although SYRIZA has so far rejected any suggestions of cooperating with PASOK, the possibility of being involved in a government may lead to a different decision. In fact, should no party win outright, the possibility of a PASOK-SYRIZA coalition is the most popular choice. Of those questioned, 26 percent said they preferred this option. Only 5 percent are in favor of ND working with the right-wing LAOS. The government’s popularity had dipped in the wake of the Vatopedi property scandal but now appears to suffering considerably as a result of the financial crisis. Three in four Greeks, according to the poll, think the country is headed in the wrong direction and only 16 percent believe the government is getting things right. This changing tide of public opinion is also reflected in the fact that 41 percent of respondents now think that PASOK will win the next election. Only 29 percent believe that New Democracy will emerge victorious. They are figures that would have seemed unlikely a few months ago.