NEWS

Papandreou gains more support

PASOK veteran Costas Laliotis yesterday declared his support for George Papandreou’s efforts to be re-elected as the Socialist party’s president, saying that he felt a «moral obligation» to back the current leader. As one of the party’s founding members and a close aide of Andreas Papandreou, George’s father, Laliotis revealed that he felt it was right that he should support the leader’s effort to be re-elected. «For reasons of moral obligation, I will support George Papandreou politically,» Laliotis wrote in a letter to the PASOK president after the party’s defeat in the September 16 general elections. Laliotis, a former minister and oft-controversial politician, only made the letter public yesterday. He added that Papandreou should not be «tarnished» by party infighting. He also called for PASOK to move closer to its traditional support on the Left. Papandreou brought Laliotis back into the party to manage PASOK’s national election campaign. But his public support is seen as adding further momentum to a campaign that has, according to some opinion polls, already seen Papandreou overtake his main rival, Evangelos Venizelos, in terms of popularity. The Papandreou camp is also counting on former Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis as one of its supporters after he met with the PASOK leader this week to discuss policies and the two are said to have agreed in a number of areas. Two other high-profile party members, Anna Diamantopoulou and Petros Efthymiou have yet to declare their support for any of the three candidates. Athens MP Costas Skandalidis is lagging in the polls but has hit the campaign trail in a bid to boost support. Speaking in Patras yesterday, he criticized the bickering between his two rivals. «Instead of arguing about what happened in previous years, let’s talk about the PASOK that we want,» Skandalidis said during a press conference. The deputy also rejected fears that the party might split if Papandreou or Venizelos loses. «The fear of the party shrinking is greater than the fear of it being split,» he said.