NEWS

PASOK uneasy over sacking of Papantoniou

There were mixed reactions yesterday within the main opposition party PASOK to George Papandreou’s decision to sack one of the most experience Socialist MPs, Yiannos Papantoniou, after a disagreement over the party’s stance on the sale of Emporiki Bank. Sources close to the Socialist leader told Kathimerini that a substantial number of the party faithful agreed with the decision to remove the former economy and finance minister from the PASOK parliamentary group late on Tuesday. Aides to Papandreou said that he needed to send a clear message to voters that he was fully in charge of the party ahead of the October local elections. The PASOK president is also due to unveil next month his party’s policy agenda for the coming year, which could see New Democracy calling early elections to take advantage of its lead in opinion polls. However, there was a distinct lack of support publicly from the party’s heavyweights for Papandreou’s decision. One of the few major players to express agreement was party secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou. She said the Socialists could not allow their policies to appear muddled. «The public demands a clear position from PASOK and personal statements that cause confusion create the impression that there are two languages in PASOK,» said Xenoyiannakopoulou. «You understand that this damages the trustworthiness of PASOK and is contrary to what people demand of us.» Her comments were backed up by party veterans Vasso Papandreou and Philippos Petsalnikos. Papandreou fired Papantoniou after he made comments questioning PASOK’s opposition to the sale of Emporiki. In fact, as economy and finance minister in a previous PASOK government, Papantoniou had initiated contact with Credit Agricole, which is currently involved in the purchase of the Greek bank. The French bank purchased 8 percent of Emporiki shares when Papantoniou was minister. Speaking on Skai television yesterday, Papantoniou said that the PASOK leader’s decision to make him an independent MP was irresponsible. «A responsible position would be to not abandon the reform programs that our governments began, which gave Greek citizens many benefits, and hand them over to New Democracy.» The ousted deputy was supported by independent MP Stefanos Manos, who was elected to Parliament on the PASOK ticket. «I had hoped that PASOK would be something different but it is not,» said the deputy.