PASOK prepares to unveil leadership candidates

PASOK is due to finalize at its national congress on Sunday which candidates will run in the race to lead the party in the snap elections that are due to be held in April or early May.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is by far the favorite to be elected the next president of the center-left party. It is still not clear who, if anyone, will run against him. Christos Papoutsis, who stepped down as citizens? protection minister so he could take part in the contest, had not collected by Friday night the 94 signatures needed so he could stand as a candidate.

PASOK?s political council met on Friday and it was decided that regardless of whether Papoutsis would be able to muster the necessary support, the party would proceed with preparations to hold the leadership election on March 18.

It was also agreed yesterday that PASOK would coordinate with municipalities to place ballot boxes in their buildings rather than rent spaces. PASOK is suffering serious debt problems and has not paid its staff for several months. PASOK members voting in the leadership election will have to pay 2 euros to cast their ballot.

New Democracy will also be attempting over the weekend to build momentum ahead of the general elections. Party leader Antonis Samaras will be speaking to ND?s political council on Sunday. The conservative chief wants to use the speech as an opportunity to signal the start of the election campaign, thereby ensuring that any prospects of the polls being delayed even further are banished.

Meanwhile, an Athens appeals court on Friday ruled against a former ND deputy who demanded more than 400,000 euros in back pay. More than 150 current and former lawmakers lodged appeals last year when they claimed that should have received extra bonuses similar to those awarded to judges between 2003 and 2007.

The politicians were claiming on average 250,000 euros each but the appeals court ruling is likely to lead to the cases being dropped.

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