NEWS

PASOK leadership vote to be held on March 18

The vote to elect a new PASOK leader will take place, as had been planned, on March 18, party officials decided late on Friday, while the Socialists continued to perform poorly in opinion polls.

There had been speculation that PASOK might try to speed up the process of electing a new president but senior officials laid this option to rest during a meeting on Friday. They did not, however, decided exactly when a national council would be held to decide on the candidates that will take part in the contest.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is expected to stand and is the overwhelming favorite for the leadership. It is widely held that Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis may run against him.

Polls published Sunday suggested that whoever is elected as the party?s new leader will have a huge task on his hands to invigorate PASOK before snap polls that are due in April.

A survey by Marc for Ethnos newspaper indicated that the Socialists would gather 13.9 percent of the total vote, while a poll by Alco for Proto Thema put PASOK on just 11 percent.

More than six in 10 of the 1,013 people polled by Marc said Greece?s next government should be a coalition administration, while 60 percent favored the creation of new parties. Two in 10 of the 1,000 people questioned by Alco said they would support a party led by interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos if he chooses to create one.

The two polls showed that between 65 percent and 75.9 percent of those interviewed said Greece should remain within the euro area while six in 10 said general elections should take place either in April or by the end of May at the latest.

New Democracy was the leading party in both polls but neither gave the conservatives a share of the vote that could secure a clear majority.

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