Snap poll behind change to surveys?

The possibility that Greece could be headed for early elections became stronger yesterday when the government revealed that it would be changing the law on opinion polls so that they cannot be published in the two weeks before ballots are cast. Opinion polls, but more specifically exit polls, came under severe scrutiny following the European Parliament elections on June 7 after they showed a much larger gap between PASOK and New Democracy than in the later actual results. The government had announced the following day that it intended to change the law, reverting back to previous legislation, which did not allow the media to show the results of any polls in the runup to elections. The ruling conservatives had changed this a few years ago to allow surveys to be published up to 48 hours before voting began. «The plethora of opinion polls in recent experience, as evident in the case of the European elections, displayed large differentiations and constant changes in a very short period, which led to citizens becoming confused,» the government announced in a statement. New Democracy’s decision to submit the amendment has now heightened speculation that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is poised to call general elections in the fall. It also drew strong criticism from PASOK. «The government is legislating without any principles and in a manner that only suit its own ends,» said the Socialist party spokesman Giorgos Papaconstantinou. «If it could legislate that any opinion polls showing PASOK with a lead of more than 3 percent over New Democracy would be banned, it would do so.»