Socialists ahead in Greek campaign

The latest opinion polls in Greece show Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis may regret his decision to call an early election. Facing some grim figures, he admitted some mistakes, but said his conservative New Democracy government had taken important steps to fight the recession and lower Greece’s ballooning public deficit. He lambasted the Socialists for not supporting his policies.

Not that that will worry Socialist leader George Papandreou. The polls say his PASOK party is widening its lead in the run-up to next month’s election, where the economy is the number one issue. Greece has been under pressure from Brussels to tackle its public debt, and has cut taxes and privatised companies to boost investment. But the polls say voters worry more about lost jobs and feel little has been done to help the poor.

New Democracy was narrowly re-elected two years ago but has seen the recession, public scandals and devastating wildfires eat away at its support. However, the polls also say the Socialists may not win an outright majority, meaning a coalition government or yet more elections.

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