ATHENS – Neither wildfires nor snow nor sniping has put a dent in the popularity of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his ruling New Democracy, a survey showing them 10 points ahead of major rival SYRIZA.
The Leftists leader and former premier, Alexis Tsipras, has been verbally assailing Mitsotakis for months over the handling the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer 2021 wildfires and now the government’s failed response to the January snowstorm.
The poll by the company Pulse for SKAI TV, which ran before and after the snowstorm that saw thousands of people stranded on a major highway overnight gave New Democracy a 32.5-22.5 percent advantage among voters.
It was based on the respondents intent if elections were to be held now although Mitsotakis has repeatedly dismissed Tsipras’ call for snap polls and said he will wait for the next scheduled elections in 2023.
In third, but rising fast behind new leader Nikos Androulakis, a Member of the European Parliament, was the center-left Movement for Change KINAL, led by former members of the now defunct PASOK Socialists.
They went belly-up after serving a previous New Democracy government as a junior partner in a coalition, losing support after backing austerity measures antithetical to its alleged principles.
KINAL had 14.5 percent, twice what it had under former leader Fofi Gennimata, who passed away in October, 2021, with Androulakis coming out of a crowded field to win the leadership and begin a resurrection.
In fourth and losing ground was the KKE Communists at 5.5 percent, followed by the ultra-nationalist Hellenic Solution at 4.5 percent and the leftist MeRA25 with 3 percent, the benchmark needed to be in Parliament.
It wasn’t all good news for the rulers, with unhappiness over the government’s response to the storm which led to Tsipras filing a censure motion easily batted away in the Parliament New Democracy controls.
Some 72 percent said the government failed in dealing with a snowstorm that had been predicted for days, with Mitsotakis apologizing for it but most of the blame fell on the operators of the Attiki Odos Ring Road that saw its CEO quit. Only 7 percent said the response was adequate.
Even worse for Tsipras was that Androulakis, by a 22-20 percent edge, was thought to be a better leader of the center-left as the former premier had earlier reached out to KINAL in an apparent attempt to absorb it.
Mitsotakis had 26 percent support but 23 percent of people said none of the three were worthwhile leaders, showing the growing disenchantment of the voting populace with Greece’s political leaders.
There were some telltale warning signs for Mitsotakis too with concern about the rising costs in a number of sectors from energy to food, with 46 percent worried about huge hikes in electric bills, 26 percent in heating, and 9 percent over food prices that are jumping.
Some 62 percent said it was a mistake for Mitsotakis, who has moved away from a pledge to consider mandatory vaccinations for all during the COVID-19 pandemic, to relax health measures in his push for an economic recovery.