Electoral prospects

PASOK is heading for the joint Central Committee and Parliamentary Group session but few are upbeat about the future. Only Maximos Mansion, the prime minister’s office, does not seem worried. Apparently, the premier and his close aides have found comfort in delusions. The results of recent opinion polls have not been released but sources say that New Democracy has extended its lead. A cool-headed, empirical political approach leads to the same conclusion. The recent wave of bankruptcies has only accentuated the economic woes that bedevil the vast majority of the population. In this adverse climate, it seems very unlikely that the expected «July counterattack» – the main subject of corridor-talk recently – will have any serious impact. Neither the upcoming reshuffle, nor the possibility of an Executive Bureau shake-up could affect the electoral power balance. The announcement and passing of measures aimed at cleaning up the body politic will boost the government’s image, but will fall short of reversing the climate. Many government cadres are calling for radical measures that will mark a fresh start. However, no one has proposed any plans that are both concrete and realistic, perhaps because there are no such things as magical recipes. All the talk about the July «counterattack» is nothing more than an expression of an understandable psychological need to maintain hope that nothing has been lost, that the climate can still be reversed, and that PASOK can once again renew its mandate. In politics, power is judged at the polling station – nowhere else. As a result, it would be premature to draw any conclusions nine months before the end of the socialists’ term. On the other hand, it takes no in-depth examination of opinion polls or acute political intuition to see that PASOK is constantly losing ground – so that its defeat at the coming elections now looks unavoidable. Over the last couple of years, New Democracy has consolidated an over 6-percent lead. And this not only reflects a higher degree of allegiance among conservative supporters but also that a significant number of disaffected PASOK voters have turned to the opposition party. The fact that despite PASOK’s decline, ND has failed to build up a strong appeal is a factor that will influence more the stability of a conservative government rather than the outcome of the forthcoming elections.