OPINION

The power of the poll

It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that polls are not only a tool for measuring voters’ dispositions and intentions but also an effective way of shaping the political climate and thus influencing public opinion. Indeed, in many situations they dictate political developments in no uncertain terms. In 1996, Costas Simitis was elected prime minister and then leader of PASOK purely because opinion polls had indicated that – due to the high level of popularity he enjoyed – he was the only politician who could win the elections. Eight years later, it was the polls once again that obliged him to relinquish the party leadership in order to avoid a looming landslide defeat at forthcoming elections. And it was these same polls that pushed George Papandreou’s candidacy forward and which decided the succession battle before it had even begun. The polls that have been published up until now, and those due to appear in the near future, are playing a key role in creating the climate in which we will cast our vote and thus influencing the outcome of the elections. As a result, the real picture is already becoming distorted and will probably become even more so as the countdown to the elections continues. Much is at stake. This is why neither one side nor the other is awaiting the announcement of voters’ preferences. They have the money to lure voters onto their side and the power to apply pressure in order to gloss up the results to suit them…