NEWS

Papandreou puts off vote decision

PASOK leader George Papandreou is expected to reveal on January 4 whether he intends to stand in a race for the party leadership and when such a contest might take place.

The former prime minister failed to clarify his position during a marathon meeting of PASOK?s political council, which consisted of 40 members, on Tuesday. Despite 12 hours of talks, during which a number of high-ranking party members made it clear that they feel Papandreou should stand aside as soon as possible, the Socialist leader only agreed to reconvene the political council on January 4.

Sources said that it is likely Papandreou will call for a meeting of PASOK?s national council toward the end of January. After that, a party congress would have to be held. However, if he attempts to delay a leadership race until after the general elections, which are likely to take place in April, it is probable that a number of PASOK heavyweights will openly revolt and put pressure on Papandreou to speed up the process to elect a new leader.

It remains unclear what Papandreou?s intentions are. It is possible he will attempt to keep hold of his position, which would heighten the possibility of a split within PASOK. However, most within the center-left party believe that the former premier will pave the way for a leadership race before the next parliamentary elections.

Some of the ministers who took part in the political council meeting were on Wednesday holding talks with interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos about initiatives to help society?s most vulnerable members next year. Among the measures discussed were 35 billion euros? worth of programs to tackle social problems in downtown Athens.