Papandreou puts off decision on PASOK leadership

PASOK?s political council is due to meet again on January 4 after a marathon session on Tuesday failed to result in party leader George Papandreou making it clear whether he would launch a leadership contest.

The meeting, which began at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and ended at 4 a.m. on Wednesday saw Papandreou come under great pressure from high-ranking members of the center-left party to pave the way for a quick election to identify PASOK?s new leader.

Papandreou said he would do his ?duty? but did not make it clear when the contest will take place and if he plans to stand as a candidate.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that PASOK should elected a new leader by January 15. He suggested that general elections would be held after Easter, which is on April 15.

Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou went as far as arguing that PASOK might have to be dismantled and rebuilt in order to attract support from the left and center.

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis also ratcheted up the pressure on Papandreou to either stand aside or to start a leadership contest.

?It does not befit PASOK to take a tentative step into the unknown,? said Chrysochoidis, who reminded Papandreou that he had stated on many occasions when he was prime minister that he was not in politics simply for the glory and power of the ?chair.?

Agriculture Minister Costas Skandalidis expressed support for Papandreou and said he had the right to stand in the leadership race. ?The issue is not who we?ll have as a president but what kind of party he will lead.?

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