Poll shows race getting tighter

As the electoral committees of the country’s two main political parties pressed on with their election campaigns and selected the candidates who will represent them in snap polls next month, a new survey showed opposition PASOK’s lead over ruling New Democracy to have narrowed, though Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Socialist leader George Papandreou are head to head in terms of their popularity with voters. The results of the Public Issue poll for Kathimerini showed PASOK slipping to a 5.5 percent lead over ND, amassing 41 percent, compared to 35.5 percent for ND. Just a few days ago most polls had shown PASOK leading ND by an average of 6.5 percent. As for Karamanlis and Papandreou, each were backed by 38 percent of citizens questioned about who they believed would make a better prime minister. Still a significant proportion of voters, 21 percent, said they would choose neither of the two. The same poll showed the Communist Party garnering 8.5 percent, followed by the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) with 7 percent and the troubled Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) with just 4 percent. Meanwhile the results of a Eurobarometer poll made public yesterday put all these figures into perspective. The survey by the European Commission’s statistics service indicated that a massive 85 percent of the Greek voting public do not trust the country’s political parties while 75 percent have no faith in the government. Despite this cold shower from Brussels, spin doctors yesterday sought to polish up their respective parties’ facades as campaigning heats up. With both main parties keen to display a fresh face and break with the past, interest focused more on which MPs were withdrawing from the race rather than the names being confirmed. In the conservative camp it was revealed that former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis, mired by allegations that he had accepted bribes, will not run. Nor will former Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas. The same fate was believed to be awaiting former ministers Evangelos Bassiakos and Alexandros Kontos, whose names were linked to the Vatopedi land-swap scandal. In the PASOK camp, which is believed to be trying to distance itself from its old guard, it was announced that former minister Christos Verelis as well as former deputy minister Christos Pachtas, both implicated in shady deals in the past, would not be running. The much-awaited decision regarding the candidacy of former PASOK Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected today. Following Karamanlis’s empassioned speech before the youth arm of his party on Wednesday, PASOK’s leader Papandreou sought to give a dynamic response. Addressing a large crowd in Neo Faliro yesterday, Papandreou declared that the current economic and social problems were an «insult to the Greek people» and gave voters his «word of honor» that «all this will change on October 4.» «We don’t cover up, we don’t compromise, we don’t sell out,» the Socialist leader said.