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Transformation of election scene

Tuesday, 14 Jun 2011

Sharp decline in PASOK’s electoral support and G. Papandreou’s standing

Analysis by

YIANNIS MAVRIS*

The sharp decline in the ruling party’s electoral support and the prime minister’s standing are causing a rapid transformation of the political scene. For yet another month, PASOK’s electoral support continued its free fall. In just 30 days, the ruling socialists sustained losses of -5% and the party’s vote estimate is now estimated at only 27%, while its actual social support is lower than 15% of the total electorate. Just 1 in 4 citizens (26%) believes that PASOK will manage to see out its four-year term. It should also be noted that the decline in the party’s electoral support has been continuous for nine months, accelerating in the last four months (since March) with average monthly losses of 2.75%. PASOK has thus returned to where it started out, i.e. to the levels of the elections of 1977 (25.3%) when – making a dynamic entry on the post-dictatorship political stage – it consolidated itself among the electorate as an alternative government party.

Among the five parties represented in parliament, PASOK is currently viewed as the most unpopular. The party’s popularity dropped to 21% (-8%), the lowest percentage in its post-dictatorship history. At the same time, the index measuring satisfaction with the government’s performance has plummeted to an unprecedented 8% (-4%), which also marks the lowest percentage since the restoration of democracy, while PASOK’s ability to govern is assessed positively by just 12% (-6%) of the electorate. The rallying of the party’s supporters stands at just 37.5%, again the lowest percentage in PASOK’s post-dictatorship history. The complete erosion of the party’s support within society is now visible. The collapse of the ruling party’s social and electoral support for the first time has given the main opposition, conservative New Democracy party a clear lead of around 4%. However, despite the turnabout, ND’s vote estimate of 31% (+2%) is not enough to secure a parliamentary majority. The party’s resurgence remains electoral, not social.

The tidal wave of disapproval has also hurt the standing of George Papandreou. The prime minister’s popularity has plunged to 26% (-8%). This is the worst popularity rating in his political career. Papandreou’s competence as prime minister (23%) has declined markedly (-10%) and no longer surpasses that of ND leader Antonis Samaras (23%). Consequently, despite the various rumors, it is obvious that – under the present conditions – the ruling party is in a dismal state and G. Papandreou personally is quite clearly unable to present the electorate with the ‘coercive dilemma’ of elections, let alone some vague referendum.

The social rejection of the government parties and the country’s politicians is now leading at an accelerating pace to an expanding social mobilization. In the past month, according to the relevant Barometer index, social participation in various types of protests and demonstrations more than doubled, from 12% in May to 25% in June. In the context of the country’s adult population, this percentage translates into 2.2 million citizens. This unmediated social movement is not easily perceived, due not only to social fragmentation but also and mainly to the crisis in the traditional forms of political representation. Nevertheless, it is a factor that has become a catalyst for developments.

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*Political scientist, PhD, President & CEO of Public Issue

Date of publication: 12/06/2011
Publication: Newspaper “KATHIMERINI”