NEWS

PM sees revival in his fortunes

The reshuffle conducted by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis earlier this month appears to have had only a limited impact on the popularity of New Democracy but has substantially boosted his own ratings, according to a new opinion poll. Public Issue’s survey for Sunday’s Kathimerini indicates that support for the ruling conservatives has increased by just 0.5 percent, to 33 percent, since December, which still leaves ND five points behind PASOK on 38. The Coalition of the Radical Left garners 10 percent, the Communist Party 8.5 percent, the Popular Orthodox Rally 5.5 percent and the Ecologist Greens 4 percent. However, a more significant development was in the leadership popularity stakes where Karamanlis appears to have staged a comeback against PASOK chief George Papandreou. The latter had overtaken Karamanlis (35 percent to 34) in December for the first time since he became PASOK leader. But according to the latest poll, 40 percent of Greeks see Karamanlis as the most suitable prime minister compared to 31 who have more confidence in Papandreou. Apparently undeterred by the damaging ratings, Papandreou addressed PASOK supporters in Trikala, central Greece, yesterday and insisted that the country needs «a new direction.» He drew attention to the fact that the European Union is likely to again initiate the excessive deficit procedure against Greece and accused ND of preparing to shy away from a debate today in Parliament on the Vatopedi Monastery property scandal. Yesterday’s poll, for which just over 1,000 people were questioned, indicated that both big parties still have plenty of work to do to convince voters as only a total of 38 percent of respondents believe that an ND or PASOK government with a clear majority would be best for Greece. Four in 10 said that some kind of coalition would be better. Based on the latest ratings, PASOK would secure only 140 seats in Parliament, leaving the Socialists 11 short of a majority.