PASOK cadres push for shake-up

As official spokesmen for PASOK redoubled their efforts to play down growing internal dissent in the Socialist party, comments by senior cadres Thursday — including both deputies to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos — fueled calls for a leadership contest to challenge party leader and outgoing PM George Papandreou to be held without delay.

In an apparent dig at would-be challengers to Papandreou and critics, the party?s media spokesman, Panos Beglitis, called on cadres to assume a more responsible stance, noting that some were ?contributing to the credibility crisis of the political system.? His comments came a few days after government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis suggested that party politics should take a back seat to the serious task of reforms.

The most surprising proposal from PASOK Thursday came from outspoken Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who conceded that PASOK has a ?serious political problem? and called for an immediate leadership contest and an extraordinary party conference.

In comments in Parliament, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is a second deputy premier, also appeared to call for a shake-up in PASOK, noting that ?everything must be clarified swiftly… and with democratic solutions.?

Pressure has been growing on Papandreou to launch the process for a leadership challenge after one candidate, Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, threw his hat into the ring and several others suggested they would join the race.

According to sources, Papandreou is reluctant to open the leadership debate now due to fears that the process could threaten the progress of reforms.

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