OPINION

Revealing polls

The recent Metron Analysis and MRB polls are particularly revealing about voter trends. This is under the precondition that there will be no selective use of the data for reasons of political expediency. The ruling party stresses the fact that it trimmed the margin which separated it from the New Democracy opposition as regards voter preference. It also highlights the fact that Prime Minister Costas Simitis widened his lead over conservative leader Costas Karamanlis as most suitable for premier. Based on these two indicators, the Socialist party claims that it has begun to narrow the gap. In truth, however, there is not much room for optimism. Today PASOK is in far better condition that it was six months ago when it was mired in crisis. It was not only the government’s success in dismantling terrorism that has changed the climate since June. It was above all the serious mistakes that the conservatives made in the battle for the local and municipal elections – mistakes that allowed the governing party to achieve a landslide victory in the Athens-Piraeus «superprefecture» and to improve its stakes in other municipalities. In other words, the opposition party not only failed to create a strong current in its favor; it also tripped itself up. PASOK, on the other hand, avoided any major faux pas; it restored party solidarity to a substantial degree, and it has dealt so far with the issue of Cyprus’s accession without suffering any losses. It is for all these reasons that PASOK expected to have slashed ND’s edge. However, the fact that this has not happened at a time when the political climate is clearly running in favor of the ruling party underscores that the voter trend in favor of the conservative opposition has been solidified, or at least remains extremely difficult to reverse. This does not mean to say that the die is cast. The fragile equilibrium remains, even though ND stands a much better chance of winning the next parliamentary elections. The opposition does not constitute the most daunting challenge for the Simitis government. Its most pressing problem is the fatigue and growing public disaffection which has, in some cases, reached the point of political rejection. The chances that PASOK will manage to reverse the political climate remain limited.