Polls and the media

The state media and most private television channels presented the results of recent opinion polls last weekend in distressing fashion. Out of the four polls – by Metron Analysis for Ethnos, RASS for Kathimerini, Opinion for Eleftherotypia and Kappa Research for To Vima – they almost provocatively focused on the last-mentioned poll because it was the most favorable toward to the government. Let us put aside for now the illogicality of celebrations by the political party that was trailing its rival by 6.1 percentage points, as well as the statements by PASOK’s most prominent ministers. Instead, let us focus on the stance taken by the media themselves. When three polls put New Democracy ahead by 7.1 to 7.8 percentage points and only one poll by 6.1 points, how can this not be interpreted as glaring proof of entangled interests between the government and private television stations when they were virtually silent over the three other polls, focusing instead on the one which proved less catastrophic for PASOK’s image? How could this not be seen as an orchestration of political conclusions about the possible outcome of the coming elections based purely on poll results that were less negative for the government? PASOK won the 2000 elections with the decisive help of the blatantly one-sided electronic media, which supported Simitis in a way that was unprecedented in Greek history. It emerged that the price of that support was costly for the country, as the entangled interests multiplied to a degree that was impossible to imagine and detracted whatever good the Simitis government had done in its previous term. It sank into the mire of corruption in order to fulfill the obligations it had undertaken to those who had most helped to get it re-elected. Bearing that in mind, people are concerned about what is in store if PASOK is re-elected under similar conditions, transacting with the same power centers. The government is likely to panic when it sees that the polls are not conforming to its own expectations of an electoral victory owing to its policy of campaign handouts. However, its stance is extremely harmful for the country’s future, as it appears willing to mobilize the mechanisms of entangled interests in order to confront the possibility of losing the votes of the masses.