Karamanlis higher in the polls, but his party drops
ATHENS – Ruling New Democracy (ND) party secretary Vangelis Meimarakis expressed has his opposition to early elections and the possibility of a government reshuffle, in press statements over the weekend.
“I believe that reshuffles are of no benefit in short time periods,” Meimarakis was quoted as saying in an interview published on Sunday by the “Vima” newspaper.
As far as the prospect of early elections due to an impasse vis-a-vis the spring selection of a new president, a scenario that has generated extensive press speculation over the past month, Meimarakis said the ruling party does not want to link the election of new president by Parliament with a national poll.
“The only possibility of elections would be if PASOK wanted this,” he said.
Conversely, the influential ND secretary – a veteran deputy from Athens’ second election district – stressed that a bipartisan candidate for president isn’t only an individual that hails from any political area except New Democracy.
One-hundred and eighty Parliament deputies are needed to elect a new president of the republic, a largely figure-head position. Failure to election a president, however, results in Parliament’s dissolution and general elections. ND retains 165 MPs in the current Parliament.
Finally, Meimarakis said the establishment of high-profile Parliamentary committees of inquiries to investigate a spate of controversial weapons procurement deals by the previous PASOK governments, among others, should not dampen efforts to find a compromise choice for the president’s post.
LEADING THE POLLS
Karamanlis, ruling ND comfortably lead Papandreou, PASOK in latest opinion poll results The first major opinion poll of the fall political season published by an Athens daily gives ruling New Democracy (ND) party a 7.5-percent lead over rival main opposition PASOK — 40.5 to 33 percent — on the question of party preference “if elections were held tomorrow”. The percentage is showing a drop in the majority party’s strength.
Moreover, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis holds a comfortable lead (54.4 percent to 31.1 percent) over his main rival, main opposition leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou, on the question of “most capable” for the premier’s post. Some 11.7 percent of respondents picked neither.
The opinion poll, conducted by the GPO firm, was published in the Sunday edition of the “Eleftheros Typos” daily. Results were accumulated between Sept. 27 and Sept. 30 during a nationwide poll using telephone interviews based on a written questionnaire. Two thousand voters over the age of 18 were queried.
In terms of the all-important question of “who would win an upcoming election”, 84.8 percent picked ND, with 9.9 favoring PASOK.
As far as other parties’ strength is concerned, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was preferred by 5.9 percent of respondents; the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) garnered 3 percent and the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party was preferred by 2.8 percent of respondents. The “undecided” tally was 9.7 percent. A 3-percent minimum of the general vote is required by the Greek constitution for representation in Parliament.
On the question of “who best can manage” issues dealing with citizens’ day-to-day problems and concerns, 54.4 percent of respondents picked PM Karamanlis to Papandreou’s 28.5; 13.1 percent answered “neither”.
Furthermore, 37.5 percent of respondents judged the government’s economy policy to date as positive or probably positive; 32.2 percent judged it as neither positive nor negative, and 26.5 percent viewed the government’s economic policy in a negative or probably negative light.
Asked about crises management — a question related to the recent crash of a military helicopter that claimed the lives of 17 people, including Patriarch of Alexandria and Africa Petros VII — 44.8 percent of respondents said Karamanlis could best handle such crises; Papandreou garnered 28.1 percent of respondents’ preference; 20.3 picked neither of the two.
On the question of Karamanlis’ job performance and image in the six months he has led the country, 59.9 percent said it was positive or probably positive; 22.8 percent said it was neither positive nor negative, while 16.7 percent said Karamanlis’ performance was negative or probably negative.
Finally, in answer to the same question for George Papandreou as the leader of the main opposition, 34 percent offered a positive or probably positive answer; 35.7 percent had a neutral opinion and 29.6 had a negative or probably negative opinion.