Poll trap

It would be a major error if the Prime Minister allowed himself to feel any satisfaction or relief over the findings of the latest VPRC poll. Though 71 percent of those questioned are dissatisfied with the government’s performance, Costas Karamanlis’s popularity remains high (60 percent) while there is minimal leakage of support to the opposition. But governmental vigilance cannot be relaxed, because those disappointed will now be expecting a change of course. Hope, as they say, dies last. When the PASOK sun was setting during the Socialist party’s second term, opinion polls showed intense public dissatisfaction, while revealing high popularity for then PM Costas Simitis. This perpetuated the political delusion among his government’s officials that simply promoting a popular premier would bring them success. Simitis, however, being smarter than the rest, hastened to escape. Undoubtedly, the prime minister and his government go hand in hand. When voters approve of the PM yet not of his government, they are basically telling him to buckle down and set his Cabinet to work against a strict timetable. Businesspeople nearly all agree that the prime minister is the Greek political system’s most powerful asset, and the only one able to convince the people that extensive reforms are needed to put the country on the road to development and true convergence with Europe. But these reforms are needed immediately, and Karamanlis should not hesitate to clash with vested interests. As for PASOK’s lack of appeal, it clearly shows in Socialist leader George Papandreou’s delay in sorting out his party and in his loud opposition to the ruling party – instead of promoting his own platform, which he undoubtedly has in mind.