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Four PASOK MP’s Return to Fold

PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos
PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos

As he approaches a critical party congress and challenges to his leadership, PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos has allowed four Members of Parliament he had ejected for not following his orders to support austerity measures to come back to the embattled party.
Costas Skandalidis and Angela Gerekou, along with Michalis Kassis and Yiannis Koutsoukos will give up their status as Independent lawmakers and their objections to pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions.
The newspaper Kathimerini said they rejoined the party, raising its numbers from 24 to 28, still less than the 33 that were elected last year. Five others have quit the party, unhappy with Venizelos’ leadership.
But tension remained high as the newspaper said pro-Venizelos factions, at a party meeting, nearly had fistfights with those who continue to back the party’s former leader, George Papandreou, who resigned as premier in November of 2011 after two years of relentless protests, strikes and riots against austerity measures he imposed on orders of international lenders putting up $325 billion in bailouts.
The return of the vote gives the uneasy coalition government headed by Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras 168 of the 300 seats in Parliament. PASOK and the tiny Democratic Left are the other members and the lawmakers are told how to vote and face being ejected if they don’t follow orders.
Preparations for PASOK’s congress have roiled the party that has fallen from 44 percent of the vote in the 2009 elections which it won under Papandreou, to about 7 percent now and fading.
A group of 75 members, including some MPs, issued a statement expressing concern about the way the congress is being planned and casting doubts on Evangelos Venizelos’s leadership. He has kept details of the event – including when it will be held – a secret so far.

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