Political Parties, Mass Media and Opinion Polls in Greece

Opinion polls constitute a phenomenon of modern democracy and a component that is indivisible from the present form of politics and the political system. The post-war period has been characterised by their mass production and the rapid expansion of their use (Katzourakis 1985; Brudburn & Sudman 1988; Moon, 1999). Their emergence and – in effect – interposition between public opinion, the mass media and the political parties, creates a triangular relationship which has multiple effects on the operation not only of the media but also of political parties. Furthermore, opinion polls cause reconfigurations and transform the very relationship between the media and the parties (Lavrakas & Holley 1991; Kavanagh 1995; Lavrakas & Traugott 2000). Although the phenomena of electoral volatility and party de-alignment are a hindrance and increase the possibility of error, opinion polls neverthelless remain the best available guide to public attitudes on political and social issues. Generally speaking, there is a basic distinction between Public Opinion Polls, which relate to the mass media and Private Opinion Polls, which relate to political parties and other groups, agencies or organisations that influence politics. Today, opinion polls are conducted on behalf of a very wide range of clients, including the mass media, political parties, local authorities, pressure groups, think tanks, NGOs, advertisinh agencies, communication companies and even wealthy individuals. Most are conducted on behalf of the mass media and to a large extent made public. Internationally, the mass media are the best clients of opinion poll organizations. In Greece, this trend is still in its infancy and furthermore, it is significantly constrained by the economic crisis which is by circumstances affecting mass communication organisations.