Venizelos takes over at helm of PASOK

Evangelos Venizelos was formally named PASOK president on Monday afternoon after tendering his resignation as finance minister to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos earlier in the day.

The handing over of the leadership from former party chief and ex-Premier George Papandreou took place at PASOK?s headquarters on central Ippocratous Street, a few hours after Venizelos had resigned and had met with President Karolos Papoulias.

“This is a new beginning for both of us, and I wish Evangelos Venizelos a lot of success,» Papandreou said at the party headquarters. «Just as we have worked together, especially during the past few crucial months in order to complete the most decisive phase of getting the country back into the realm of certainty, recovery and hope, so I trust that we will continue our close cooperation,? he said.

?As a simple citizen and always as a member of the movement, I will stand beside the new leadership?s efforts,? Papandreou added.

Some 236,000 Socialist party supporters voted in Sunday?s nationwide election for PASOK chief, giving Venizelos 230,105 votes, which equates to 97.4 percent support.

?We need to put the country in order again and assure the citizens that the same mistakes, the same slip-ups will not happen again and that they will not relive the same negative experiences,? Venizelos said after thanking the outgoing party chief.

The 55-year-old championed Greece?s place in the European Union, which he described as ?colorless, conservative and slow to react,? adding, however, that it is only within the context of Europe that Greece can find the framework in which to achieve progress.

Venizelos has a tough task ahead to rejuvinate the Socialists before the general elections expected in late April or early May, as PASOK came fifth in a recent Public Issue opinion poll, lagging 14 percent behind New Democracy, which garnered 25 percent.

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