PASOK on Tuesday sought to contain the political fallout in the wake of a tense and tumultuous event marking the Socialist party’s 40th anniversary.
On Monday, PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos, who is also deputy prime minister in the conservative-led government coalition, turned up at the event organized by the Andreas G. Papandreou Foundation at the Zappeio Hall, following an invitation by former Prime Minister and his predecessor at the party helm George Papandreou. His overture however appeared to find little sympathy among hard-line Papandreou supporters. As Venizelos took the podium, a group of about 150 people heckled the PASOK chief and shouted slogans against the party’s political alliance with New Democracy.
“We must look into the causes that led us to rule together with the right,” Venizelos told the crowd.
Officials close to Venizelos criticized the organizers of the event, most prominently PASOK veteran Filippos Petsalnikos, for failing to subdue the hecklers.
MP Dimitris Karydis urged Papandreou to condemn the reactions. “Venizelos proved that he is pro-unity, that he wants a big and united PASOK... It’s others that need to live up to their responsibilities,” he said.
During his address on Monday, Papandreou said that PASOK folk were “eager for a new beginning.” Sources close to the former premier later denied speculation that his statement hinted at the creation of a new party.
Pouring oil on the flames, PASOK’s official Facebook account Tuesday attacked Papandreou with a strong-worded statement.
“The supporters (indignant citizens – hit squads) of the man whose party won the 2009 elections with 44 percent of the vote and then succeeded (!) after two years as PM in forging a coalition with the Right of [Antonis] Samaras and [Giorgos] Karatzaferis yesterday urged [Papandreou] to return and do away with the Right!... Send in the duty psychiatrist please.”
The post was quickly removed from the party’s account. A statement later said the message did not reflect the party’s official position.
PASOK will officially mark its 40th birthday Wednesday. Papandreou will be in London and will not attend the event.