PASOK reaches uneasy truce on leadership vote

A tense session of PASOK’s political council resulted in the party’s high-ranking cadres deciding on how their next leader will be elected but put off dealing with the divisive issue of how the last two elections were lost by the Socialists. The leadership ballot will go ahead as planned on November 11. If none of the three candidates – current leader George Papandreou, Thessaloniki MP Evangelos Venizelos and Athens MP Costas Skandalidis – receives at least 50 percent then the two top hopefuls will face off in second ballot one week later. It was agreed yesterday that PASOK members and «friends» will be able to vote in the election. The party will close its books on November 1 so local chapters can check the validity of all the names on their lists. The register will then reopen on the day of the ballot and new members will be able to sign up by showing an identity card and paying 10 euros, whereas party «friends» will pay only 2 euros. Voting will stop at 7 p.m. During yesterday’s fractious meeting, there were a number of arguments between Venizelos and party cadres supporting Papandreou. A committee had been appointed to probe the reasons for PASOK’s recent election defeats but it failed to deliver a report and the issue is likely to be raised at a meeting of the party’s national council, which will convene this weekend. Papandreou appeared keen for the reasons behind the party’s 2004 defeat, as well as this year’s, to be examined. The leadership candidates will have an opportunity to address party delegates and members on November 2, 3 and 4 when the Socialists are due to hold a national conference.