OPINION

Early signs

Although the findings of the three recent opinion polls vary, they still confirm existing trends. A RASS poll gave New Democracy a 9.8 percent lead over PASOK, Kappa Research one of 7.8 percent, and MRB one of 8.3 percent. Even according to the most upbeat survey for the ruling Socialists, ND is extending its lead. It’s worth noting that even at the best moment for PASOK, ND’s lead never fell below 6 percent. Nevertheless, ND has yet to convey the impression that the vote has already been decided. PASOK, for its part, has failed to trim the margin. Over the past six months, this uneven balance has begun to tilt. According to MRB, ND enjoyed a 6.8 percent lead last December, 7.9 percent last March and 8.3 percent now. PASOK has not given up, but it does not seem to have the power to wage a political counterattack that would trim the difference. Perhaps this is because its main enemy is not the opposition but its own fatigue, teamed with public disaffection. The low degree of allegiance amid Socialist supporters, contrary to those of the conservative opposition, is primarily a result of government weariness. As the polls demonstrate, a large number of people who voted for PASOK in 2000 have moved over to ND in protest at government policies. The Socialists’ only hope seems to be the «Simitis card.» Despite ND’s lead, the two leaders are almost neck-and-neck. Simitis is doing better than his party and this is mainly thanks to his political weight. But it is also attributable to two reasons: Simitis is the incumbent premier while Karamanlis has never been tested in any political office. More importantly, most of the voters of small leftist parties prefer Simitis to Karamanlis for premier. Hence, we may say that this index has little prognostic power. In any case, power is decided at the ballot. Polls only provide some early signs.