NEWS

PASOK minister blasts party

PASOK?s political council is due to meet on Wednesday amid growing calls for a leadership contest and in the wake of one of the candidates for the party presidency — Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis — attacking the previous government and former Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Speaking to Skai TV?s ?New Files? program, Chrysochoidis admitted that the PASOK government elected in October 2009 made some initial mistakes that led to Greece having to ask the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for assistance.

?We should have secured quick funding [from the markets] and avoided the EU-IMF loan memorandum,? he said. ?Not only did we delay but we were handing out social benefits and arguing whether pay rises in the civil service should be for those earning more or less than 2,000 euros a month.?

Chrysochoidis, the first PASOK official to declare his intention to challenge for the leadership, suggested the Socialists had been ill-prepared to take power at such a crucial time for the economy. In what appeared to be an attack on Papandreou and his colleagues, as well as a dose of self-criticism, he said, ?We had absolutely no political preparation, no ideological maturity and no administrative ability to deal with the situation that landed in our laps.?

Chrysochoidis, who said he had made his objections clear during cabinet meetings, blamed Papandreou for worsening the crisis through his negative comments about Greece, leading to panic on the markets and forcing Athens to seek help from the EU and the IMF. The minister also accused the former premier of placing too many of his ?friends and employees? in the Cabinet, leading to a lack of experience among those in charge of government departments.

Chrysochoidis left no room for doubt as to whether Papandreou should stand again for the party leadership, claiming that this would only happen in a ?Third World colony.?

A number of other potential candidates, such as Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, are due to state their opinion during Wednesday?s political council. It is expected that the process for electing PASOK?s new leader will also be agreed.