ND offensive misses the mark

An attempt by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to step up the intensity of his verbal attacks on the PASOK party and especially its leader George Papandreou ahead of next month’s European parliamentary election does not appear to have had a positive impact according to the latest opinion poll, which has the ruling conservatives trailing their main opposition by some distance. The latest in a series of Public Issue rolling polls conducted for Kathimerini and Skai TV predicts that PASOK will gain 34 percent of the vote on June 7, compared to 28 percent for New Democracy. This would represent a heavy defeat for Karamanlis, who is hoping to restrict his losing margin to about 3 percent. In a survey conducted earlier this week, the difference between the two parties stood at 5 percent. Surprisingly, the Ecologist Greens have risen to third in the rankings with their support running at 7 percent. More than half of those that said they would vote for the Greens said they would do so as a protest vote. Worryingly for Karamanlis, just under half of those who voted for ND in the 2007 general election are now considering withdrawing their support: 55 percent say they will vote for the conservatives but 7 percent intend to support PASOK, 6 percent the Ecologist Greens and 11 percent are considering not voting at all. New Democracy had been banking on a strategy of all-out attack against PASOK. Conservatives have this week attempted to embarrass Papandreou over his decision to use German Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg’s famous «socialism or barbarism» quote to describe the dilemma Greek voters face today. Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros claimed it showed that PASOK regarded those who do not vote for it as barbarians. Antonaros also revealed that the parties had agreed that the only televised debate of the campaign will take place this coming Thursday at 8 p.m. The leaders of the five parliamentary parties will be questioned by six journalists in a format that allows for 30-second questions and answers that are limited to 90 seconds.