The preponderance of recent Greek polls show a tight election. However, the latest Public Issue Survey stands out, and I happen to think that is the most accurate one.

Please consider Going into final stretch, SYRIZA builds poll lead

In the last opinion poll to be published by Kathimerini before the June 17 elections, leftist SYRIZA maintains a clear lead over New Democracy, although short of enough support for a clear parliamentary majority.

According to the Public Issue survey, SYRIZA garners 31.5 percent of the vote, 1.5 more than just a week ago. Support for New Democracy is largely unchanged at 25.5. PASOK has lost 2 percent and falls to 13.5. It is followed by Democratic Left (DIMAR) on 7.5 percent and the weakening Independent Greeks on 5.5. The Communist Party (KKE) also has 5.5 percent, while the neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) has fallen to 4.5 percent. The liberal alliance of Dimiourgia Xana (Recreate Greece) and Drasi attracts 2.5 percent.

In terms of parliamentary seats, this translates into 134 for SYRIZA, 68 for New Democracy, 36 for PASOK, 20 for DIMAR, 15 for KKE, 15 for Independent Greeks and 12 for Chrysi Avgi. Most would fall slightly if the liberals reach the 3 percent parliamentary threshold.

Most Greeks, however, are not convinced that SYRIZA will win. The poll indicates that 58 percent believes ND will come first and only 34 percent see the leftists triumphing.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said that the Washington-based fund is willing to listen to “any new ideas” that the next Greek government has with respect to how the fiscal targets agreed as part of the bailout can be achieved more effectively.

Rice also said IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, regretted recent remarks concerning tax evasion by Greeks and comparing their suffering to children in Niger. “She regrets her remarks were misunderstood and caused offense, that was not her intention.”

What’s Lagarde’s Game?

In Harsh Language from Lagarde: “IMF Has No Intention of Softening Terms”; From Head of Deutsche Bank: “Greece is a Failed Corrupt State” I expressed the viewpoint that remarks by Lagarde and Deutsche Bank were “purposefully Inflammatory”.

I see no reason to change my mind about the statements made by Deutsche Bank. Is the apology by Lagarde an admission of a huge gaffe? Possibly, but take a look at the statement once again.

In an uncompromising interview with the Guardian, Lagarde made it clear that the IMF has no intention of softening the terms of the country’s austerity package.

Asked whether she is able to block out of her mind the mothers unable to get access to midwives or patients unable to obtain life-saving drugs, Lagarde replies: “I think more of the little kids from a school in a little village in Niger who get teaching two hours a day, sharing one chair for three of them, and who are very keen to get an education. I have them in my mind all the time. Because I think they need even more help than the people in Athens.”

“I think they should also help themselves collectively.” Asked how, she replies: “By all paying their tax.”

Those statements are clearly quite inflammatory. Regardless of her intention, I strongly believe those statements will swing votes to Syriza.

Numbers Add Up for Syriza? 

Kathimerini has additional details on the latest polls in Are the numbers starting to add up for SYRIZA?

For all the fluctuations polls showed in the support for SYRIZA and ND, PASOK has remained anchored to its feeble showing on May 6. The Socialists have hardly moved from around 13 percent and seem unable to convince their former supporters to return to the fold. In contrast, Democratic Left shows a modest rise, but this has not come at the expense of SYRIZA. There has been a drastic fall in the number of people intending to vote for parties that won’t get into Parliament. If SYRIZA and Democratic Left are drawing support from this pool and not from each other, then Tsipras’s party doesn’t face a strong threat from the left side of the political spectrum.

The Public Issue poll indicates that SYRIZA is fishing support from an even larger tank. Over the last few months, a growing proportion of Greeks has positioned itself on the left wing of Greek politics. According to the latest survey, half of those questioned said they identified with the left. This was up from 39 percent just over a month earlier. Those identifying with the right, however, are at 28 percent, which has remained virtually unchanged for the last six weeks.

This presents a serious problem for New Democracy. These numbers suggest its potential appeal has a much lower ceiling than SYRIZA and that it has almost reached it. The conservatives have tried to pull out all the stops to build on the slim lead of 2 percent they had over the leftists on May 6. This included welcoming back Dora Bakoyannis, who suspended the operation of her Democratic Alliance party, and several members of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and Independent Greeks, all of which had been a drain on ND’s support. However, now that’s been done, ND leader Antonis Samaras has nowhere else to turn to generate support. He’s brought in the reinforcements but still seems outnumbered by Tsipras’s amassing troops.

The last vestige of hope for Samaras has been to polarize the campaign, to turn it into an all-out battle between the responsible conservatives who would keep Greece on an even keel and in the euro and the reckless leftists who dream impossible schemes that would ensure the return of the drachma and deep misery. So far, the euro-vs-drachma dilemma has had only limited appeal and time is running out for Samaras to state his case convincingly.

The presentation of his party’s economic program on Thursday lacked the pomp and circumstance of previous addresses at Zappeio Hall but, more crucially, seemed to carry little weight. Media interest was scant and the ideas presented were tired. It had the air of an inconsequential conference, where everyone was staring at the clock for the last speaker of the day to finish. Compare this with the heightened expectation for Tsipras’s address on Friday, and the SYRIZA leader seemed like the guy with all the momentum. Brighter and fresher, he even got his audience of their seats a couple of times. Maybe the body language and aura meant very little but one imagines the conservatives would have gladly swapped places with the leftists at this stage of the campaign.

One encouraging sign for the conservatives could be that almost twice as many Greeks think that ND will win the elections as those who believe SYRIZA will come first. The leftists want to break with the past but they have to conquer it first by making people believe a SYRIZA-led government is possible and viable. It may be the only thing left standing between them and what until recently was an election result nobody could have predicted.

New York Times Has Different Results

The New York Times reports matters much differently in UPDATE: Greek Conservatives Lead In Three Final Polls Before Vote

Greece’s conservative New Democracy Party led the radical left Syriza Party in three polls released Friday, the last to be published before crucial June 17 elections that are widely seen as a de facto referendum on the country’s future inside the euro zone.

According to a survey of voter intentions for the privately owned ANT1 channel released late Friday, New Democracy had a razor-thin 0.7 percentage point lead over Syriza, with 22.7% favoring the conservatives and 22% favoring the radical leftists.

A survey released earlier Friday in the newspaper Ta Nea showed 26.1% of respondents intend to vote for New Democracy, up from 25.8% in the previous poll just over a week ago, versus 23.6% who said they would vote for Syriza. The poll, conducted by Kapa Research between May 29-31, showed an increase in undecided voters, with those yet to make a final decision rising to 14% from 10.8%.

The Socialist party, Pasok come in third place, with 9.9%. The survey showed the Communists, Independent Greeks, Democratic Left and the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn all set to gain more than the 3% support required to return lawmakers to parliament.

Another poll published in the newspaper Eleftheros Typos also showed New Democracy ahead, backed by 26.5% of respondents versus 24.2% who supported Syriza.

The three polls confirm a broad trend shown by more than half-a-dozen similar surveys in the last week that give the conservatives a slight advantage. But in each poll the difference separating the two parties is less than three percentage points and within the statistical margin of error. That suggests the race remains too close to call.

In last month’s elections, Syriza was catapulted from a small fringe party with about 5% of the vote into a surprise second-place finisher.

A fourth survey published Friday in the newspaper Kathimerini adjusts the results for undecided voters. It shows Syriza ahead, gathering 31.5% of the vote versus 25.5% for New Democracy.

Throw the Bums Out

European voters have an overwhelming tendency to throw the bums out.

  • Nicolas Sarkozy a centrist went down in flames to Socialist Hollande in the French presidetial election. 
  • Socialists were thrown out en masse in the last elections in Spain. 
  • In spite of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity, her party, the Christian Democratic Union, has been trounced in recent elections in Germany.

Expect Syriza to Win

Take the tendency to blame the party in power along with the fact that New Democracy and Pasok have been ruling Greece for years, then add in the exceptionally inflammatory remarks by Lagarde, and one should expect Syriza to be in the lead.

I rate Syriza a 2-1 favorite to win the election with a similar chance of actually forming a coalition government if they do.

If so, Greece will default on payments to the Troika, and funds to Greece will be shut off.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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