The impact of polls on political strategy

The recent cycle of opinion polls promises to play an exceptionally significant role in shaping the strategies of the two main political parties in the final runup to general elections, as their quantitative and qualitative data will underscore the strong and weak points of both parties as they prepare for another electoral showdown. Clearly, ruling New Democracy has every reason to try and turn the elections into a personal clash between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, while at the same time focusing the inter-party conflict on the burning issue of reforms. All opinion polls show Karamanlis to be maintaining a steady lead over Papandreou as the leader whom voters regard as most suitable for prime minister. In addition, MRB data show that most voters trust Karamanlis over Papandreou when it comes to handling the country’s economy. At the same time, current opinion polls confirm that the real thorn in ND’s side is the far-right LAOS party of Giorgos Karatzaferis, which is believed to be luring away some 3.6 percent of ND’s voters. At present, although LAOS does not appear capable of threatening ND’s lead in the countdown to elections, it is very likely that it will confine the ruling party to a very slender majority in the next parliament. As for PASOK, it is beginning to see a gradual, yet steady, improvement in the profile of its leader Papandreou. It also appears that PASOK’s attempt to appeal to poorer social groups is bearing fruit as the main opposition party has a 1.1 percent lead over ND in the domain of social policy, according to MRB. Meanwhile, many commentators believe that the attempt by PASOK’s leadership to tarnish the image of the prime minister and the government by polarizing the climate and milking the structured bonds scandal is actually counterproductive, as ND hangs on to its lead with respect to voters’ intentions more than 100 days after the bond scandal first hit the headlines. Meanwhile, Synaspismos Left Coalition is as much a pain for PASOK as LAOS is for ND. PASOK’s leadership not only appears incapable of winning over Synaspismos votes, but actually seems to be losing some 3.1 percent of its own voters to the smaller party, according to MRB. The extent to which both parties will make the necessary changes in their strategies over the coming weeks, in order to boost their advantages and mitigate their weak points, will to a great extent determine whether the next elections will be another comfortable win for ND or a close call as in 2000.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.