Venizelos to lead Greek Socialist party
Greece’s Finance Minister Venizelos (L) is set to be the new socialist leader. AP photoA conference of Greece’s socialist party has declared finance minister Evangelos Venizelos the sole candidate to succeed George Papandreou as party leader in an open election March 18. Venizelos was the only one who had the required number of signatures from national council members, as party statutes require.
Former Citizen Protection minister Christos Papoutsis and former lawmaker Stefanos Tzoumakas did not qualify and will not run, despite their pleas for the party to have a competitive election. Both represented the traditionalist wing of the party. “Our country is at a crucial juncture and as a result a very large number of PASOK officials have supported my candidacy,” Venizelos told a party conference. A pensioner on crutches hurled yoghurt at Venizelos during the conference in a reminder of the unpopularity of austerity measures he has overseen in 9 months as finance minister.
Appointed to the finance ministry in June after a previous stint as defence minister, he helped broker a debt cut of over $133 billion with private creditors that concluded March 9. Venizelos, 55, had lost a leadership contest to Papandreou, who has led the party since 2004, in 2007. The leadership election, now a formality, will be open to all citizens, not just party members.
Compiled from AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.