NEWS

Papandreou pledges ‘new PASOK’

Opposition leader George Papandreou yesterday heralded in a series of reforms to radically renew the functioning of his PASOK socialist party, while at the same time accusing the ruling conservatives of inefficiency and of harboring plans for austerity measures. Addressing the party’s National Council – which consists of the Central Committee, PASOK MPs and European Parliament deputies, as well as local party organization leaders – Papandreou, 52, pledged to deliver «a new PASOK» founded on broader democratic principles. «The new PASOK needs citizens just like blood needs oxygen,» he said. «It no longer has any need of officials holding multiple jobs, arrogant cadres, petty lairds ruling over local party organizations, feudal lords of party castles.» However, after what appeared to be a verbal lashing of the party whose leadership he assumed on February 8 – under a brand-new open polling process in which he received over a million votes – Papandreou said he would neither seek to negate nor diminish the work of the defeated PASOK government. He also told the National Council that he was not «setting up new or old leading groups.» Papandreou said all party organs, as well as PASOK’s candidate MPs and MEPs, would be selected through an open, public voting process. And Papandreou effectively pledged to disband the Central Committee, heralding «organizational structures that are not closed and vertical but open and horizontal.» Turning to New Democracy, Papandreou charged that the ruling conservatives are «inefficient, and this looks as if it will become apparent in the course of the economy.» He claimed that ND intends to «ignore its pledges and implement an austerity program.»