Beleaguered PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos is coming under increased fire in the party with one of his lawmakers saying there should be a vote at its Congress over who should lead the party.
The demand from former Former Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis came after another of the party’s lawmakers, Thanos Moraitis, should Venizelos should quit outright because it’s continuing to slide in the polls under him.
“The question of who will lead the effort to rebuild the center left is not one to be posed by me,” Sachinidis told To Vima. “This will be posed by the grass roots, which will be represented at the congress, where the policies, personalities, leader and leadership team will be evaluated. The leader has to be chosen by the grass roots in an open process.”
An irritated Venizelos, showing the wear from growing attacks by dissidents as he’s pushed the party toward the bottom after it was a dominant power, dismissed criticism as coming from “Fifth Columnists,” referring to a group of people who try to undermine a larger group.
Another deputy, Giorgos Dolios, suggested that a leadership contest could not be held at the same time as the Congress because the party’s charter foresees the leader being elected by PASOK members and not conference delegates. Dolios, however, said that Venizelos was wrong to call his detractors within the party “Fifth Columnists.”
“He’s on the receiving end of all kinds of criticism regardless of whether it’s his fault,” said Dolios. “However, he should not have used these words because it insults people whose behavior bears no relation to that of Fifth Columnists.
PASOK, Moraitis said, “needs a new leadership, one that can inspire, unite and expand [the party’s influence].” He said the party’s showing in the European Parliament elections, in which it managed only 8 percent of the vote despite attaching itself to the new center-left movement Elia, or Olive Tree, showed Venizelos is the wrong person to lead the party.
PASOK, under then-leader George Papandreou, won 44 percent of the vote in taking the Prime Minister’s office in the 2009 elections before he was hounded out of office by protests, strikes and riots against austerity measures he imposed on orders of international lenders.
Venizelos backed pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings to the detriment of the party but it gained him the positions of Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in the coalition government led by Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras.