Venizelos announces congress that may define PASOK’s future

PASOK will hold a make-or-break congress in February, when its president, Evangelos Venizelos, will attempt to shape the Socialist group in his vision but only if he manages to fend off the rising opposition to his leadership within the party.

?Our aim is to transform PASOK into a modern, institutional, democratic party,? Venizelos said on Thursday during a meeting of the Socialists? political and organizational secretariat.

?We want a PASOK that will not represent the rearguard forces of supposed leftism, which represent privileges and reactionary behavior,? Venizelos added in a clear dig at SYRIZA, which outpaced the Socialists at this summer?s national elections.

An opinion poll conducted by VPRC and published on Thursday made appalling reading for Venizelos as it ranked PASOK as Greece?s sixth party with just 5.5 percent support. After two bruising elections, PASOK garnered 12.3 percent in the June elections, when it was third. The VPRC poll showed that this position has been taken by the far-right Golden Dawn, which gathered 14 percent of support in the survey. New Democracy was second with 27 percent and SYRIZA first with 31.5 percent.

During Thursday?s meeting, it emerged that several of PASOK?s 33 MPs want the party to take a more active role in the coalition government. Venizelos had prevented any of the party?s lawmakers from joining the Cabinet following the June elections. Venizelos also gave clear public backing to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

?He speaks on behalf of all us, he speaks on behalf of the country,? he told PASOK members ahead of Samaras?s appearance at the European Union leaders? summit.

However, several MPs expressed concern at Thursday?s talks about the way PASOK is being run, reflecting a discontent with Venizelos?s leadership that peaked with his awkward handling of the memory stick containing the details of some 2,000 Greek depositors at the Geneva branch of HSBC.

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