Greeks see rocky road ahead

PASOK’s popularity has only slipped marginally in recent months but a growing number of Greeks believe that the government will not be able to see out its full four-year term and that early elections will be called, according to a new opinion poll. The Public Issue survey conducted for Kathimerini and Skai TV and Radio indicates that Greeks see growing labor unrest, the country’s international reputation deteriorating and the country’s politics being shaken up in the near future. PASOK still enjoys a comfortable lead over New Democracy – 38.5 percent to 30.5 percent – although the gap between the two parties has narrowed by 1 percent since December. The Communist Party continues to perform well in the polls, with its rating at 10.5 percent, while the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has edged up to 6 percent, overtaking Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) on 5.5 percent. The newest political parties, Dora Bakoyannis’s centrist Democratic Alliance and the Democratic Left, remain under the 3 percent threshold that would win them seats in Parliament. Prime Minister George Papandreou retains a gaping lead over ND leader Antonis Samaras when it comes to the question of who voters see as the most suitable candidate to be premier. Support for Papandreou is at 41 percent, compared to 19 percent for Samaras. However, any comfort the prime minister and his government can take from the poll figures will be tempered by the fact that few voters think PASOK will be able to avoid calling a snap election. The number of respondents who believe that Papandreou will be forced or will choose to go the ballot box early has increased by 14 percent over the last month to 56 percent. Although the majority believes that snap elections are inevitable, few voters seem to want them. According to the survey, 81 percent of those questioned said that Greece could do without an election battle. It seems that most people are concerned about the country resolving its economic problems and restoring its reputation around the world. Eight in 10 respondents said they think that labor unrest will continue in the months to come and two in three believe that foreigners’ views of Greece are deteriorating. PASOK sources told Kathimerini yesterday that there is concern within the ruling party about the impact successive strikes and work stoppages on the public transport network are having on public opinion. The government is worried the disruption might be a foretaste of what is to come when it attempts to liberalize dozens of closed professions.