Since today, PASOK has a new leader. Evangelos Venizelos, Vice President and Finance Minister of Lucas Papademos’ government, won the internal party elections throughout Greece, gaining a second chance after having lost from former PASOK president George Papandreou in the previous party elections held in November of 2007.
But his victory did not come as a surprise for the wide minded. The last months he was assigned one of the most difficult tasks in the world: to save the Greek economy. The completion of a plan to erase a third of the over 360-billion-euro Greek state debt burden held by private creditors, opened the way for the release of a second 130-billion-euro bailout deal to Greece by international lenders which is expected to be ratified by the Greek parliament by April.
In return, the 55-year-old ran unopposed in the contest to take over the centre-left party from George Papandreou, who resigned as prime minister in November. And he won with the approval of more than 200.000 who were willing to pay the 2 euro fee for voting him…
Apart from that, the Greek socialist party is facing tremendous lose as to its popularity and not without a reason. The latest survey conducted by telephone (Public Issue, March 8-13) put PASOK in fifth place with the support of 11 percent of respondents, while for decades it was the largest party in Greece with 40 percent of the vote or more in most elections.
And why so? The party took most of the blame for the painful rounds of austerity measures enacted in exchange for aid from foreign creditors. Analysts believe that voters are likely to punish socialists for its role. Furthermore, one-third of voters plan to abstain or cast blank ballots according to recent polls.
So, a “change” was compulsory in order to reverse the negative image in people’s minds due to the general election by early May.
And last but not least, today, March 18, is the anniversary of the death of Eleftherios Venizelos. If someone believes in reincarnation, something which Greek Orthodoxs don’t, maybe there is a hope…