PASOK prepares for ballot

With a week to go before PASOK socialists choose their next president, the party’s three-day conference finished yesterday with repeated calls of unity that will «help them to topple the ruling conservatives.» Party President George Papandreou called on party members to «roll up their sleeves» and prepare for a new era at PASOK after the Socialists lost the September 16 national elections. Papandreou told Kathi-merini in an interview he is prepared to clash with those who stand in the way of politics operating autonomously, adding that he has learned from mistakes made in the past. Leadership contenders Evangelos Venizelos and Costas Skandalidis also addressed party members yesterday. An opinion poll made public about a week ago indicated that Papandreou has a 12-point lead over Venizelos, his closest rival. Meanwhile, high-profile PASOK MP Anna Diamantopoulou backed Papandreou on Saturday, saying she prefers the current president to remain at the helm of the party.