NEWS

Venizelos speaks like PASOK leader

Evangelos Venizelos, the favorite to succeed George Papandreou in the chair of PASOK, told the party?s national convention on Saturday that the Socialists will remain united, strong, rejuvenated and sensible, after seeing some of the key figures of the government back his candidacy.

Just over a week before the election of the new PASOK leader on March 18, Venizelos spoke as if he had already taken the party?s reins.

?It fell to PASOK to handle the biggest crisis since the end of the civil war [in 1949]. We were forced to bear the whole of the responsibility and the political cost, while other political forces played the populist card,? said Venizelos.

?Now that we have completed the debt swap plan that has lightened the people?s burden by 100 billion euros, it is a good time for us to look at our fellow citizens in the eyes and offer a big, honest apology for our errors and omissions.?

After Citizen?s Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis voiced his support to Venizelos?s candidacy in the morning, Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou also threw her weight behind Venizelos with a statement of her own.

It was not all rosy for the Finance Minister, however, as a pensioner threw some yogurt at Venizelos, whose associates voiced their discontent with security at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.

Venizelos?s only challenger for the time being, Christos Papoutsis, wondered in his speech whether ?unity in PASOK is a matter of arrangements at the top that change every week depending on the conjunction and ambitions.?

Incumbent Papandreou reiterated that Greece was about to sink when he and his party took over, in 2009, ?and we managed through sacrifices to avert its sinking.?

Saturday?s National Convention will be followed on Sunday by the party?s National Council meeting, which will determine who will be the candidates for the party chair.