Venizelos eyes new era for PASOK

Calling for a ?refounding? of PASOK, leader Evangelos Venizelos warned officials at the Socialists? congress on Friday that nobody, including himself, is bigger than the party.

In the first such meeting since the June 17 elections, Venizelos sought to open up the possibility of PASOK working with the Democratic Left but he also attempted to stamp his authority on the party, which saw its support collapse at the two recent national elections.

Venizelos said he would not allow anyone to use PASOK as their own vehicle. ?Those who damage the party, who damaged it when it was in power, who damaged it in the election campaign, will not damage it now,? he said. ?Enough is enough.?

Venizelos appears to have severed ties with former ministers Giorgos Floridis and Ilias Mossialos but no decision has been taken on whether ex-Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos and former Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis will be welcome within the PASOK ranks. Sources said that there was no question of a split with former health and education ministers, Andreas Loverdos and Anna Diamantopoulou, who are likely to be placed in frontline positions.

Venizelos also suggested that he was only filling in the role of party leader because of an absence of other suitable candidates and would be willing to step aside if someone else could be found. ?I will not burden the party or public life any more with my presence in such a case,? he said.

Venizelos said that PASOK had to regain the ideological ground between the ?communist-oriented? left and the right. His statement came as invited guest Spyros Lykoudis, the secretary of PASOK?s coalition partner, Democratic Left, said there was a need to create a ?big, socialist party that has unburdened itself of populism.? Venizelos suggested that PASOK and Democratic Left could follow the example of the center-left Olive Tree coalition in Italy.

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