Socialist veteran Evangelos Venizelos accused Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Fofi Gennimata of committing political suicide by playing into the hands of New Democracy and denied rumors that he was eyeing some form of cooperation with the center-right opposition.
Speaking on Skai TV on Monday night after resigning from KINAL ahead of the second round of local and regional elections over the weekend and after the center-left coalition shot to third place in May's European polls, Venizelos expressed his “profound sadness” at the development, saying it inflicted a “deep wound” on the party. “I hope the damage is not irreparable,” he said.
Venizelos, a member of KINAL pillar PASOK for nearly three decades and a minister in two governments during the crisis – including that of finance when Greece implemented a highly unpopular debt restructuring scheme by swapping privately held bonds – said that Gennimata accused him of symbolizing “efforts to save the country,” of eyeing a bigger role in the party and of pursuing a different strategy to that of the leadership.
Venizelos admitted that he felt insulted by Gennimata's decision to put former Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis at the top of the list of candidates for the nationwide party list (epikrateias) in the national elections instead of himself, saying he had made it clear six months earlier that he had no intention of running as an MP.
“I honor the position, but I have already held it for 27 years. The question is whether KINAL believes that it should also have me in Parliament, have me as a voice in its ranks. If it wanted that it would have done it. Therefore, it was sending a message. A message that there is another KINAL without Venizelos,” he said. “The whole affair was created in order to send a message.”
Venizelos also accused Gennimata of playing into the hands by New Democracy by ensuring that it wins with enough of a majority in next month's general elections to form a government. “I have fought and continue to fight so that New Democracy cannot form a government,” he said, dismissing rumors of a possible alliance with the conservative party.
Gennimata's strategy is an “act of political suicide for the party,” he added, refusing to comment on whether KINAL may be headed for a leadership battle.
Venizelos' comments come as KINAL was holding a meeting of its parliamentary group and organizing committee in central Athens on Tuesday to discuss strategy ahead of next month's general elections.