OPINION

Commentary

The MRB opinion poll this week confirmed a slight comeback by the ruling Socialist party and the prime minister. In this sense, they are now in a much better position than they were in the early summer. But a closer examination of the data reveals that PASOK’s prospects are less rosy than surface appearances would suggest. The electoral popularity of the two major parties has, over the previous years, undergone wild swings, but the last few months have seen the conservative New Democracy opposition consolidate a clear six-point lead in opinion polls. Citizens’ replies to the question of who they believe will win the next elections also give ND an undisputed lead. It is worth noting that the opposition is consolidating a lead despite the fact that it still has not convinced the majority of citizens that it constitutes a reliable alternative. The above opinion poll reveals interesting contradictions in some of the citizens’ political preferences. Costas Simitis is considered to be the most suitable PM at a time when ND not only maintains a lead but is also seen as more effective in dealing with the country’s problems. These contradictions confirm that the electoral balance of power remains in flux and nothing has been decided yet. This is despite the fact that the trend appears to be firm and ND’s lead seems to have passed the point of no return. PASOK is trying to exploit the current situation in order to reverse the mood and take the lead. This time, however, it labors under a disadvantage which cannot be overcome. Citizens have tired of PASOK’s long stay in power and it is extremely unlikely that this will change. PASOK’s aggressive tactics essentially aim to polarize confrontation with ND and thereby highlight the infamous dividing line between Right and Left. PASOK General Secretary Costas Laliotis has rightly diagnosed that calm waters on the political scene favor the opposition and facilitate the shift of disillusioned traditional PASOK voters toward ND. Laliotis is trying to stop this drift and the opinion poll allows him to claim that his tactics have started to bear fruit.