PASOK’s leadership has been battling the fallout from its decision to bar 10 MPs from running on its ticket in the next election, following the resignation of Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas on Friday. Pachtas was forced to resign when it emerged that he had pushed through Parliament late on Wednesday an amendment that would allow the building of timeshare villas at the Porto Carras Hotel in a forested part of the Halkidiki peninsula, his constituency. Shortly afterward, PASOK announced that the nine MPs whose signatures appeared on the amendment would be barred from re-election. This prompted outrage among the MPs and criticism from senior party members, including chief election campaign strategist Theodoros Pangalos, who said the deputies should have been given the opportunity to defend themselves. But Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is set to succeed Prime Minister Costas Simitis as PASOK’s chairman next month, has been adamant that radical action was needed to show that the country is turning a new leaf. «The decision that was taken was necessary and does not refer to specific people,» Papandreou said in Brussels yesterday, at his farewell appearance as foreign minister. He was trying to soften the blow against the outcast MPs, most of whom have been on television bulletins continually, drowning out almost all other political developments. Papandreou’s hardline stance, however necessary for political reasons, suffered a serious setback yesterday when one of the nine, Yiannis Anthopoulos, conceded that he had forged the signatures of Costas Diamantis, Giorgos Kirkos and Panayiotis Kourouplis. At a meeting of some of the nine with senior party officials, Anthopoulos said he had done so because the three had signed the amendment at an earlier session in Parliament, when it had not passed. The provincial council of Halkidiki, in a majority vote, expressed support for Pachtas yesterday, saying the area needed new tourism ventures and that the former minister had worked toward this. The New Democracy party, which accuses PASOK’s leadership of complicity in the «scandal,» demanded yesterday that the government withdraw its nomination of Alexandros Bousbounis to succeed Stavros Thomadakis, who is retiring, as chairman of the Capital Markets Commission. Bousbounis is deputy chairman.