Papandreou seeks new political role

Former Prime Minister George Papandreou caused consternation in his party, PASOK, on Thursday when he strayed from the Socialist line and called for a new government to be formed if a president is elected this month, while suggesting that he might form his own political movement if Greece heads to snap elections instead.

Papandreou issued a six-page statement in which he expressed concern about the country’s political and economic situation, while criticizing the government and the opposition for failing to find common ground. The ex-premier said he would vote for the coalition’s presidential candidate, Stavros Dimas, and that it would be best for Greece to avoid early elections.

However, Papandreou insisted that if Dimas is elected a new “democratic and progressive” government should be formed afterward. His comment has been interpreted as a proposal for SYRIZA to be included in a coalition administration.

Papandreou also ruffled feathers at PASOK headquarters by indicating that he would seek to take a central political role if the country does have to hold early elections. “If, unfortunately, there is not a positive outcome [to the presidential vote] and irresponsibility leads the country to national elections, we will all be called on to assume our responsibilities,” his statement said. This has been interpreted as a suggestion that Papandreou might try to form his own party.

Sources at PASOK said that Papandreou’s intervention appears to be an attempt to present himself as a conduit between the opposition and the government but that there is unlikely to be any interest in what he is offering.