OPINION

Misconduct

A part of its efforts to keep the public constantly informed, Kathimerini publishes, on a regular basis, surveys that have been conducted by pollsters that are generally accepted as accurate and credible. One of these is the weekly political barometer put out by V-PRC and commissioned by Skai radio. In a highly prevaricative and immoral fashion, government spokesman Christos Protopapas yesterday tried to question the credibility of the above survey. Protopapas’s reaction was obviously prompted by the fact that the V-PRC poll showed that PASOK stood lower on all indices, including voter preference. Virtually all political commentators agree that the fallout from the controversial development bill has injured the Socialist party and, specifically, attempts by chairman-in-waiting George Papandreou to promote a new party image. The poll said that New Democracy has widened its lead by 1.1 percentage point, up to 4.3 percentage points from 3.2 last week. A precipitous rise in the registered voter preference index could, perhaps, justify some reservations. However, the increase in the margin between the two front runners was within expected limits. Furthermore, no one can say with certainty whether the 1 percent increase will be maintained or not. The above survey, like every other survey, only recorded the momentary balance of power between the competing parties. This did not prevent Protopapas from attacking the V-PRC poll, calling it «politically unreliable» and «scientifically flawed,» thereby confirming once again that he has not stopped behaving as PASOK’s official propagandist. Besides, Protopapas’s style and morality are well-known to the public. The spokesman argued that the publication of telephone surveys must not include the crucial voter preference index. He also invoked an old and informal code of ethics that, in fact, does not bar the release of the above index. It is worth noting that the leading pollsters in the West, including the US-based Gallup company, base most of their work on telephone interviews. Most importantly, in a highly volatile pre-election period, only telephone polls have the capacity to instantly record ongoing changes in voter preference. What is more, in considering that the poll was not a one-off survey but a procedure that is repeated on a weekly basis, the power to make comparisons offsets any inherent drawbacks of the telephone-based method. It provides parties with a useful tool and the public with reliable information. This is self-evident and should not become a public issue. Most of all, it should not be distorted by the government spokesman in an attempt to promote his own propaganda objectives.