New Democracy Lead Over SYRIZA Soars to 15%, Mitsotakis Premier Pick

New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, right, leaves after finishing his speech as he walks in front of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, during a parliamentary session in Athens, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Despite a rampage of handouts and political moves critics said are aimed at breaking up rival parties, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Radical Left SYRIZA has fallen 15 percent behind the surging New Democracy Conservatives he unseated in 2015.

Four years after being elected and repeatedly reneging on anti-austerity promises and making a deal to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as North Macedonia, giving away the name of an ancient Greek province has been costly.

With his former coalition partner, the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of former Defense Minister Panos Kammenos quitting the coalition in protest of the deal, Tsipras has been seeking votes and potential partners from rival parties.

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his sister, veteran Conservative lawmaker Dora Bakoyianni, said Tsipras has done it with political horse-trading, offering political “transactions” to rival lawmakers to back him and the FYROM name deal without specifying what they were.

The survey by Opinion Poll showed that New Democracy with a runaway 31.5-16.5 percent lead over SYRIZA and the ultra-extreme right Golden Dawn, whose 15 lawmakers and dozens of members are in the fourth year of a trial on charges of running a criminal gang and using neo-Nazi methodologies holding third at 4.3 percent.

In fourth was the KKE Communists at 4.1 percent with the fading center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) falling to fifth despite a base of former once-dominant PASOK Socialists at the helm but unable to regalvanize public support.

They were the only parties above the 3 percent threshold needed to get into Parliament in elections this year. On the outs are three other parties, the once-promising To Potami (The River) at only 0.7 percent, the Union of Centrists and ANEL at only 1.3 percent.

The survey showed respondents favor Mitsotakis to be Prime Minister with 34.8 percent support to 23.3 percent to Tsipras, a gap of 11.5 percent.