ATHENS – With Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras making a frantic bid to convince voters he has taken Greece toward a recovery, they don’t believe it as a poll shows the major rival New Democracy Conservatives have run away to a 14-point lead.
Paying the price for reneging on anti-austerity promises, Tsipras has taken his party down to only 22.7 percent compared to 36.7 percent for New Democracy, who took over the party after the Leftist leader in 2015 twice won elections when the Conservatives had different chiefs.
In the last two years, Tsipras has also sped up the sale of state assets he promised to blow and agreed to more pension cuts and taxes on low-income families while failing to go after tax cheats or “crush the oligarchy,” as he famously promised.
In the first opinion poll since the two leaders gave their platforms at the critical Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) earlier in September, the Metron Analysis survey, conducted for Ta Nea newspaper’s weekend edition showed New Democracy running up a big lead after after briefly seeing SYRIZA cut into the margin.
But in bad news for both party leaders, while Mitsotakis was the preferred choice to be Prime Minister by a 23-13 percent, some 43 percent of Greeks said neither was suitable for the position, showing the deepening level of mistrust in politics.
The newly-emerging coalition of center-left parties under the banner Democratic Alignment – the old PASOK that nearly vanished after supporting austerity – came in third with 8.8 percent, bumping down the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn from its hold on third, with the extremists coming fourth at 7.3 percent although all its Members of Parliament have been on trial for more than two years on charges of running a criminal gang, which they deny.
The irrelevant KKE Communists were fifth at 7.1 percent followed by the Union of Centrists at 3.4 percent,, the only other party to meet the 3 percent threshold to get into Parliament in the next elections.
On the outs were SYRIZA’s coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL), the once-surging To Potami centrists who are folding into Democratic Alignment, and the anti-bailout parties Popular Union and Sailing for Freedom, formed by dissident members of SYRIZA rejected for opposing pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and privatizations as Tsipras once did before surrendering to international creditors so he could stay in power.