ATHENS – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ deal to rename The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – giving away the name of an ancient Greek province – appears to hurt him in the polls in an election year with the major rival New Democracy taking a 14.2-point lead.
The survey was conducted by the European Parliament ahead of May 23-26 elections for the body amid reports Tsipras may call snap elections at the same time to keep his rival, whom he unseated in 2015, from galloping away.
The Premier has been handing out benefits to lower-income sectors and raised the minimum wage 11 percent, half of what he said he would do four years earlier in a vow to restore it to the level before an economic crisis began in 2010, leading successive governments to seek what turned into three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($374.04 billion) that won’t be repaid until 2060.
The European Parliament’s Public Opinion Monitoring Unit found New Democracy, which belongs to the center-right ervative opposition, with an edge of 39.2-25 percent over SYRIZA, which belongs to the European United Left.
The ultra-extreme right Golden Dawn, charged with using neo-Nazi methods and with all of its 15 Members of Parliament and dozens of members in the fourth year of a trial on charges of running a criminal gang, was a far third at 7 percent.
The faltering center-left Movement for Change (KINAL), led by former PASOK Socialists whose party went under after backing New Democracy in a previous coalition in backing austerity measures, was fourth at 6.8 percent and the KKE Communists fifth at 6.4 percent.
To Potami, the Union of Centrists and the pro-austerity, tiny, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who were partners with SYRIZA before pulling out in objection to the deal to change the name of FYROM to North Macedonia, let its citizens be called Macedonians and have a Macedonian language, culture and identity, and open the door for the country to get into NATO and begin European Union accession talks were far below the 3 percent threshold needed to return to Parliament.
The figures are based on nationwide public opinion polls conducted by the firms Marc, Opinion and Pulse. The next report from the European Parliament on the upcoming European elections is now expected in mid-February.