Synaspismos in leftward shift

Adjusting its course further to the left, Synaspismos Left Coalition yesterday elected MP Alekos Alavanos as its new chairman, to replace outgoing Nikos Constantopoulos. The 54-year-old economist received 58.5 percent of the ballot in the first round of voting at the end of a four-day Athens conference called by Greece’s fourth-largest party. His closest opponent, Michalis Papayiannakis – an advocate of closer relations with the PASOK main opposition party – came second with 33.18 percent. On Saturday, Alavanos had already summarily dismissed a call from PASOK leader George Papandreou for a political dialogue. «We and PASOK have different paths to follow,» he said. Constantopoulos, who had been rumored to be a strong favorite for ruling New Democracy’s presidential nominee, announced he would not be seeking re-election as party chief – a post he had held since 1993 – after Synaspismos’s poor showing in the June European Parliamentary elections. Synaspismos has six MPs in the Greek Parliament.