Venizelos wants PASOK to play ‘leading role’ in coalition

In what is likely to be his last speech in Parliament before the 300-seat House is dissolved ahead of elections, the leader of socialist PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos, said his party was prepared to play a ?leading role? in a new coalition government.

Venizelos?s speech appeared to come in response to the insistence of the leader of conservative New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, that his party will garner adequate support for a parliamentary majority. Opinion polls put ND ahead of PASOK but suggest that neither of the two parties will amass enough votes to rule independently. ?We want victory in the elections. That means we want to come first and have a decisive role in developments so we can rally the forces that will tackle the crisis,? Venizelos said. The PASOK leader admitted that PASOK was guilty of ?mistakes,? ?erroneous assessments,? ?delays? and ?a lack of courage of speed.? He also criticized Samaras for having an ?equivocal stance, reminiscent of old-style politics,? and of ?hiding behind? PASOK during negotiations with foreign creditors.

Declaring that Greece is ?two-thirds of the way to exiting the crisis,? Venizelos also highlighted five priorities: seeking the extension of the country?s rescue program to the end of 2015, taking advantage of the opportunity offered by last month?s private sector bond swap (PSI), completing the recapitalization of banks, increasing the absorption of European Union funding and speeding up privatizations, and protecting those on low incomes.

The party?s national council is to convene on Wednesday to finalize names on the list of electoral candidates including Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and Deputy Defense Minister Yiannis Ragousis. Some party members would prefer them not to be on PASOK?s ticket.