PASOK puts newcomers in prime slots

PASOK, under new leader George Papandreou, kept piling on the surprises yesterday, opening its door to Mimis Androulakis, a former Communist Party member who played a leading role in the indictment by Parliament of PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou in 1989. This came a day after two prominent former members of the conservative New Democracy party – Stefanos Manos and Andreas Andrianopoulos – said they had accepted George Papandreou’s invitation to collaborate with the Socialists in the March 7 elections. Part of PASOK’s past campaigning was based on criticizing the policies of the ND government of 1990-93. Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis was the only leading member to state his thoughts openly. «The economic policy of 1990-93 was ineffective and is imprinted indelibly in citizens’ memories,» he said. Papandreou yesterday presented his party’s list of «state deputies,» who will be elected to Parliament on the basis of the party’s overall number of votes, without having to campaign. Those high on the list of 12, and sure to be elected, are European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, Maria Damanaki (a former Synaspismos Left Coalition leader), Manos, Androulakis, Andrianopoulos and Cabinet Secretary Socrates Cosmidis. Papandreou said that the PASOK leaders before him had also been eclectic, «always calling on forces with different opinions» to join with the party. To allay fears of harsh liberal policies being introduced, he added, «We are committed to our program and remain devoted to our aims for balanced and socially just development with increased protection for weaker groups.» New Democracy officials described PASOK’s opening as the product of panic. Leftist parties said this proved the Socialists were a harsh right-wing party. A poll conducted by VPRC for Skai Radio on Feb. 9-10 found that if elections were held today, ND would get 47 percent (from 46.5 percent a week earlier), while PASOK was steady at 41.5 percent. A poll by Opinion for Mega, conducted on Feb. 2-10, gave ND 39.1 percent and PASOK 35.9 percent, narrowing to 3.2 percent a difference of 4 percent a week earlier.