Unions plump for Papandreou

The heads of five of Greece’s biggest unions gave their tacit backing yesterday to George Papandreou’s campaign to be re-elected as PASOK leader when the party’s ballot takes place on November 11. The union chiefs, which included the presidents of the country’s largest private group, GSEE, and the civil servant’s union, ADEDY, said in a joint statement that they thought the current president of the party, as well as its «elected bodies, members, friends and voters are the guarantors of its unity and future prospects.» They also criticized Papandreou’s main rival, Evangelos Venizelos, who recently claimed that the union mechanism was not being put at his disposal to promote his campaign. «If Mr Venizelos wants to find mechanisms, he should look very carefully in his own environment,» said GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos. Former Prime Minister Costas Simitis also came in for criticism from the unionists. They suggested that his government was responsible for PASOK’s 2004 election defeat even though Papandreou was put in charge of the party shortly before the polls. Papandreou and Venizelos are due to address rallies in different parts of Athens today with just over three weeks to go to the leadership ballot. The third candidate in the race, Costas Skandalidis, yesterday criticized both of his opponents for what he sees as unnecessary bickering. «I am going around all of Greece and these practices create exasperation, anger and sadness among PASOK members, the party’s grass roots and among the wider public,» said the Athens MP.