It was short after 7 p.m. last Sunday, when the exit polls stunned all Greeks, left-wing SYRIZA included. In Attica region, SYRIZA candidate Rena Dourou was 7 units ahead of acting prefect and PASOK candidate Yiannis Sgouros. And thus although there was no such sign in any public opinion poll before the elections. Also SYRIZA mayor candidate was ahead the current mayor Giorgos Kaminis, although opinion polls was displaying Gavriil Sakellaridis to lay behind the acting Athens mayor.
The exit polls triggered comments about “the defeat of the coalition government parties”and strong scenarios of snap elections end of June.
Two hours later, when the results started to come in … the soberness: Kaminis was ahead of Saklellaridis with a rate of 1,06%. Dourou was still ahead of Sgouros but with just a 1.79% difference.
To the criticism pollsters replied with the not so convincing argument that “SYRIZA voters were more eager to answer to exit polls questionnaires than voters of coalition government parties.”
For their mistakes and false exit polls results, some pollsters blamed …the voters.
Pollster Ilias Nikolakopoulos even implied that “the voters might have even given false answer.”
Nikolakopoulos proposed that pollsters should widen the number of responding voters.
Kostas Panagopoulos (ALCO) admitted the mistake, he apologized via the State television channel and promised to “investigate the causes.”
Interior Minister’s intervension
What ever the pollsters’ arguments, they didn’t seem to convince citizens and the government and Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis submitted a written request to the Association of Companies of Poll Market Research and Code ethics – Professional Practice ETS and the Code of Conduct of ICC -ESOMAR ( International Chamber of Commerce – International Market Research Agency) asking them to immediately investigate the issue.
“As the minister responsible for the electoral process I would like to emphasize that the issue is serious, as it exposes not only the pollsters, but also those involved in the public debate, while causing inconvenience to citizens,” Michelakis wrote in his letter, adding “The causes of these serious discrepancies must be identified and those necessary steps need to be taken, in order to avoid future similar phenomena that causing inconvenience to citizens and possibly influence the electorate. ”
Polls lose credibility
Citizens have always suspected that depending on the political ideology of the medium that gives order for a public opinion poll, the results would come accordingly.
The failure of exit polls on the first round of municipality and regional elections seem to confirm that pollsters may have to adjust -if nothing else – at least their methods.
No wonder that citizens are skeptical when it comes to public opinion polls.