Venizelos sends out coalition warning

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos tried to play down Tuesday suggestions that his party would participate in any post-election coalition government without preconditions and would also accept New Democracy chief Antonis Samras as the next prime minister.

Speaking to journalists from the Peloponnese, Venizelos said that PASOK?s participation in a unity administration should not be taken for granted. ?PASOK?s participation is not a given and it will not govern while New Democracy and other parties engage in demagoguery and populism,? said Venizelos.

He also sought to douse the idea that Samaras would be an automatic choice for prime minister if New Democracy comes first in the May 6 elections. ?Mr Samaras is ruling himself out with what he is saying and doing.?

Venizelos also said it was vital for the electorate to ?tell us very clearly, with a big majority, what it wants.? This was seen as an indication that he wants the next government to collect more than 50 percent of the vote. ND and PASOK are currently polling at a combined total of under 40 percent.

In a bid to boost their fortunes, the Socialists Tuesday surprisingly named Olympic champion weightlifter Pyrros Dimas on their state list of candidates. Spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata argued that Dimas, an ethnic Greek who grew up in Albania, was a positive role model at a difficult time for the country.

?He represents the Greece that tries, fights and succeeds,? said Gennimata. ?He represents the Greece that has to get up and stand tall.? Candidates on the state list are not directly elected but gain seats in Parliament in proportion to the share of the vote their party wins at the ballot box. PASOK will be hoping to get over 25 percent of the vote, which will give spots in Parliament to the top three candidates on its state list.