ATHENS – Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives are taking a beating in the polls for backing austerity measures even though he said it has brought Greece to the edge of recovery.
A new opinion poll conducted in September showed opposition the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) with its biggest lead ever over the Conservatives, 24-18 percent. That came days after another survey had the Leftists ahead by 2.4 percent and after previous polls all year showed them swapping the lead.
The survey was carried out by a University of Macedonia research institute on behalf of SKAI during the period from Sept. 11-15, after both Samaras and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras spoke at the Thessaloniki International Fair where the Premier promised tax cuts and the Leftist chief said he would roll back all of austerity’s conditions even though that would leave the country broke.
The survey shows the ultra-super extreme Golden Dawn party remaining third, but fallen to 6.5 percent after all its 18 lawmakers and 60 party members were arrested on charges of running a criminal gang.
In fourth was the new arrangement called Elia (Olive Tree) which now incorporates the PASOK Socialists who are partners in the coalition government and were floundering at about 3-5 percent before joining the new party, which registered at 5.5 percent, tied with the dormant KKE Communists and the new populist anti-politician To Potami (The River) party.
The Independent Greeks were at 3 percent, the threshold needed to win seats in Parliament while the survey showed the Democratic Left (DIMAR), which was briefly in the coalition before leaving in a huff over worker firings, was irrelevant at 1 percent even though its leader, Fotis Kouvelis, has been mentioned as a likely candidate of the ruling parties to be their nominee for Greek President in February, 2015.
Perhaps worse for all the parties was that 21 percent of people were undecided, showing the growing level of disenfranchisement in society.
The survey also showed that 25 percent of participants felt that SYRIZA was capable of running a successful administration, while 59 percent of respondents said they didn’t think the opposition party was capable of running the country successfully. Only 24 percent of poll participants felt that the current coalition government was able to lead Greece to exit the financial crisis.
The poll also showed that only 18 percent of citizens believed that Samaras could deliver on his Thessaloniki promises while 52 percent didn’t believe him and that their lives would get worse.
It wasn’t much better for Tsipiras and his pie-in-the-sky speech, with only 28 percent of people thinking he would succeed and 53 percent doubted it, while 19 percent felt SYRIZA would take Greece in the wrong direction.
Forty-six percent of participants believe the current Parliament should elect the next Greek President, while 54 percent think the House should be dissolved and general elections be held.