ATHENS – With Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras caught between twin crises of the economy and refugees, the major opposition New Democracy Conservatives have taken an eight point lead over SYRIZA in a survey.
The poll was done by the University of Macedonia for SKAI TV and showed New Democracy pulling away under the new leadership of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who now opposes the austerity measures he supported as Administrative Reform Minister where he was charged with firing public workers.
Tsipras had also opposed austerity measures demanded by international lenders when he was out of power only to embrace them soon after taking office.
In the poll, conducted between March 29 and 30, 24.5 percent said they would vote for New Democracy compared to 16.5 percent for SYRIZA which has seen its base, particularly among the young, rapidly erode after Tsipras reneged on virtually every promise he made to raise pay and pension benefits, cut taxes, stop privatizations and rehire workers.
Far behind but tied for third was the Greek Communist party (KKE) along with the extreme-right Golden Dawn, whose leaders and dozens of members are being tried slowly on charges of running a criminal gang, which they deny.
Next at four percent came the once-dominant PASOK Socialists, who had 44 percent of the vote in winning the 2009 elections but have lost 90 percent of their base. They were tied with the Union of Centrists.
Bad news for Tsipras’ coalition partner, the far-right nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) is that it is polling at only 2.5 percent, below the three percent threshold needed to enter Parliament, after it also reneged on anti-austerity promises. They scored the same as the To Potami centrist party which has faded fast after opening with a flourish.
The ultra-far left Popular Unity, a group of SYRIZA dissidents who broke away, are at only 1.5 percent, essentially now politically irrelevant.
The results showed a big comeback for New Democracy, which was twice whipped last year by SYRIZA under then-leaders Antonis Samaras, a former Premier, and interim leader Vangelis Meimarakis, who was ousted by Conservative voters in favor of Mitsotakis, son of a former Prime Minister.
The poll results came just days after New Democracy called for elections to prevent the country from reaching what it described as an impasse.
Mitsotakis, who sources told Kathimerini has undertaken a strategy to “deconstruct” the political profile of Tsipras, defended his call for snap polls, saying that “it is proven day after day that (the ruling coalition) cannot govern. The cost of them staying in power outweighs the cost of elections.”
“Our call is an expression of the country’s productive forces that are suffocating under the government’s policies,” said Mitsotakis. Only 43 percent of SYRIZA voters said they would continue to back the party even though Tsipras reneged on them.