NEWS

PASOK rivals outline strategies

PASOK leader George Papandreou and his main challenger for the party leadership, Evangelos Venizelos, set out their strategies for rejuvenating the ailing opposition party at a crucial national council over the weekend. Conspicuous by his absence was former prime minister Costas Simitis, who explained in a letter to party officials that he did not want to fuel «attempts to create polarization and to shift responsibility for (the party’s) defeat.» In their speeches on Saturday, Papandreou, Venizelos and Costas Skandalidis, a third contender, all set out their vision of PASOK during the conference which served to approve their candidacies for the November 11 leadership elections. Papandreou analyzed the reasons for the party’s degeneration, saying it «had become trapped in the functions of the state machine. We lost our soul and identity, we became stewards of power,» he said. The new PASOK should be «populist, radical and patriotic,» he added, seeking a «new mandate for a new start.» Venizelos appeared to criticize Papandreou’s analysis of the past, saying: «What has happened to PASOK since election night is not about the past, but the future.» He said PASOK should be «radical but also all-embracing.» In a clear response to critics accusing him of undermining party unity, Venizelos said: «There is no risk of rifts when a democratically normal and self-evident procedure is under way.» Skandalidis said he envisioned the creation of «a radical party.»