Greece: Socialist Pasok looking for new identity

Party congress wraps up in Athens while Syriza grows

04 March, 14:34

(By Demetrio Manolitsakis) (ANSAmed) - ATHENS, MARCH 4 - The ninth congress of Pasok, the Greek Socialist party founded by Andreas Papandreou in 1974 just days after the fall of the colonels' regime, wrapped up Sunday in Athens. In a short period of time Pasok, under the leadership of its founder, was able to win national elections with 48,06% of the vote and govern Greece for almost two decades during which the country changed significantly.

Today's Pasok however has very little to do with that party perhaps also because, apart from the political errors committed by its leaders, it had the misfortune to lead the country in the first years of the grave economic crisis which hit the country.

In recent elections in June 2012, Pasok lost over two thirds of votes shrinking from 43,92% (3.012.373 votes) to 12,28% (755.868 votes). Most lost voted - 40% according to local analysts - went to radical left party Syriza, which rose from 4,60% in 2009 to 26,89% obtained at the 2012 elections, thus becoming the main opposition party. The situation could get worse for Pasok with the latest surveys indicating only 5,3% of would-be voters would cast their ballots for Pasok today.

Closing the congress, the party's President Evanghelos Venizelos said Pasok does not intend to leave the government coalition - which it supports together with Nea Dimokratia of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the Democratic Left of Fotis Kouvelis - and stressed there is no alternative to this government. Venizelos said instead that Pasok should participate more, stressing that 'it is not possible to fool around with early elections during the critical phase of the implementation of a programme to re-launch the economy' agreed with international creditors. He also announced that Pasok will soon ask for an update of a programme agreement with government allies.

The new programme should include, among other things, the approval of a fairer tax system, an economic development plan and measures for low-income families. Moreover Venizelos means to ask government partners to send a clear message to international creditors stressing that 'Greek nationals cannot sustain more austerity measures'.

Venizelos will also ask for more transparent and efficient rules for parliament and the government to avoid misunderstandings which could endanger the cohesion of the cabinet, something which already happened, and called on the Democratic Left to join forces at the next elections in order to create a large centre-left bloc, like Italy's 'Olive tree alliance', ruling out an alliance with Syriza. The proposal, added Venizelos, also concerns the balance of powers inside the government, which in this way would have two political blocs, one conservative and the other progressive, rather than three.


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