Opinion polls for the last year have given the right-of-center opposition New Democracy party (ND) a commanding lead, while Costas Simitis, the reformist prime minister and PASOK leader who steered Greece into the euro zone, has lost ground to Costas Karamanlis, his younger conservative rival.
True, the ND party came out ahead of PASOK, winning mayoral races in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece's two biggest cities. Furthermore, the conservatives exploited farmers' dissatisfaction with declining European Union subsidies to win thirty out of fifty-two provincial governor's posts. But PASOK held on to the high-profile post of Attica governor--won comfortably by Fofi Gennimata, a rising star and one of only a handful of women in the party's upper echelons. Overall, barely two percentage points separated the two big parties.
While ND is still the favorite to win the next general election--not due until spring 2004 but likely to be held earlier--PASOK has shown remarkable powers of resilience. A feel-good factor is certainly at work, with Greece's economy projected to expand this year by 3.8 percent, more than twice the EU average, and by 4.1 percent in 2003. ...Show more