PASOK Slips, But No Winners Seen
ATHENS – Eighteen months after imposing pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions on the working populace in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy, the ruling PASOK Socialist party has fallen further behind the major opposition Conservative New Democracy rival party, but a new poll shows neither would have enough support to win a new election because of raging voter discontent with both. Worse for the party leaders is that both have fallen behind minor parties as a choice for the country’s leaders.
The poll, for the newspaper Kathimerini and SKAI TV, shows PASOK slipping 4 percent since last month in the wake of another wave of austerity measures, giving the only 22.5 percent approval compared to 31.5 percent for New Democracy, the party which preceded the and which the European Union said lied about the economy. That leaves New Democracy far short of the margin needed to win an election, further compounding the country’s woes.
According to the projections, ND would gain between 134 and 145 seats in the 300-member parliament, depending on whether five or six parties make it into the House. PASOK would win between 57 and 71, less than half what it currently has, 154 seats.. A party needs 150 seats to control the body. That voter unhappiness was said to be one of the reasons PASOK members are rubber stamping the demands of the Troika lending the country $152 billion to keep from going bankrupt, orders issued through Prime Minister George Papandreou. Some PASOK MP’s have said they fully expect to lose their seats.
PASOK’s slide has benefited the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), as well as the smaller Democratic Left, which was formed last year. Kathimerini said that the general unhappiness with the state of Greek politics means that for the first time in a Public Issue poll, respondents rated parties and politicians as the country’s third-biggest problem after the economy and unemployment. Nine in 10 voters say they are unhappy with the government but an equal amount say they are dissatisfied with New Democracy.
Papandreou and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras are both falling in the polls, Papandreou down 7 percent to 23 percent since last month, with Samaras falling 2 percent to 35 percent. The country’s most popular political leaders are Popular Orthodox Rally’s Giorgos Karatzaferis and SYRIZA’s Alexis Tsipras, who tie on 38 percent. Despite their concerns about the government’s handling of the economic crisis, 53 percent said that Greece does not need elections, against 39 percent who believe they are necessary.