07/03/2004 - D-7
Just a few days before the general elections that are to take place in Greece on 7th March, Nea Demokratia (ND), the main opposition party is in the lead in all opinion polls.
According to two polls undertaken by Alco and Metronn Analysis for the TV channels Alter and Antenna, the gap between Nea Demokratia and the PASOK (Pan Hellenic Socialist Movement) that is in power at present, is now less than three points, and still in Nea Demokratia 's favour.
The Alco survey grants Nea Demokratia with 40.8% of the intention to vote versus 37.9% for PASOK. Behind them come the Communist Party (KKE) with 5.4% of the vote, the Coalition of Leftwing Forces and Progress (Synaspismos) 3%, the Democratic and Social Movement (Dikki) 0.9% and the Laos (People), an extreme rightwing movement, 1.5%.
Metro Analysis grants Nea Demokratia with 39% of the vote and PASOK with 36.3%. Around 13% of the Greeks are undecided.
In both opinion polls the PASOK leader George Papandreou, son of Andreas, founder of PASOK, and grandson of George, the great leftwing leader in the post-Second World War years, both former Prime Ministers, is considered more apt to assume the position of Prime Minister than his adversary, Constantin Caramanlis (ND), nephew of another Constantin Caramanlis, four times Prime Minister (1953-1963 and 1974-1981). This is the opinion of 42.3% of those interviewed versus 39.9% in the Alco survey and 45.2% in the Metron Analysis.
The president of Nea Demokratia was in Ioannina, the capital of Epirus where he held a meeting on 28th February last. Constantin Caramanlis gave details of his outline for the regional policy he would like to establish after his election; he presented five priorities for the region: full transparency of the funds provided by the European Union, the protection of the environment and the exploitation of natural resources, the enhancement of cultural heritage, the undertaking of work on the infrastructure and the support of the farmers, local tourism and SME's. On the same day, George Papandreou was in Patras, the main town in the Peloponnese, where he was defending the results of his time as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He mentioned the settlement of the Cypriot question, the mutual reduction of arms expenditure by Greece and Turkey. Under the banner of "Education, Work and Humanism" the President of PASOK called for the establishment of a new development model and a Social State. He called on the Greeks to be confident and consolidate what had been accomplished over the last few years.
The five leaders of the parties represented in Parliament met on Thursday 26th February for a televised debate hosted by Mr Hadjinicolaou. According to the Greek press the planned debate turned into a sequence of five monologues. The daily Ta Nea gave the upper hand to George Papandreou due to the calm manner he adopted during his speech; however the newspaper Kathimerini found Constantin Caramanlis more convincing.
In all 25 political parties will take part in the general elections on 7th March. We should note that Anna Diamantopoulou, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs suspended her activities at the Commission in order to be able to take part in the electoral campaign in which she is included on the PASOK list. If the Socialists win she is to be called to government. Athens will then appoint her successor in Brussels.
No opinion poll will be available during the last days of the campaign, since Greek electoral law prohibits the publication of all electoral surveys one week before the vote.
Hence it will be on 7th March that we shall see whether the Greeks voted in favour of a political change by granting the majority to Nea Demokratia as the polls have forecast or whether they choose to maintain the PASOK in power.