With the once-might PASOK still floundering, one of its lawmakers said the Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos’ strategy of siding with Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras hasn’t worked and he wants a new direction for the party.
MP Costas Skandalidis questioned Venizelos’s strategy and said he should begin contacts with the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) which won most of Greece’s seats in the European Parliament. Venizelos and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras are mortal political enemies, however.
“Nobody has the legitimacy to decide the fate of a historic party on his own,” said Skandalidis in an op-ed in Ta New newspaper.
PASOK had fallen to as low as 3-5 percent in polls before Venizelos, desperate to keep the once-dominant power from disappearing, attached it to the new center left movement Elia, or Olive Tree, which got 8 percent in the EU ballot.
Still, PASOK is a shadow of its former self and has fallen to record low under Venizelos, who backed harsh austerity measures being imposed by Samaras and got himself appointed Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in return while his party fell apart around him.
A former PASOK minister, Andreas Loverdos, who quit last year, is expected to return however, and three others booted for refusing to obey Venizelos’ orders to vote for austerity may come back as well. Greek lawmakers are not allowed to vote the way they want but must follow their party leaders or be ejected.
Skandalidis suggested PASOK should end its cooperation with New Democracy after the next general elections and for discussions to begin with other parties, including the “pro-European forces within SYRIZA.”
One of PASOK’s longest-serving deputies, Skandalidis shied away from the idea of the Socialist forming a permanent grouping with the irrelevant Democratic Left (DIMAR) and the new populist group, To Potami (The River) which is sidling up to PASOK although the movement was formed to oppose the mainstream parties.
There was no word on whether he would face disciplinary action for challenging his party leader in public. PASOK remains in disarray, however, with former leader and previous premier George Papandreou, continuing to snipe at Venizelos from the sidelines.
PASOK got 44 percent of the vote in 2009 when Papandreou won on the slogan, “The money is there,” only to quickly find out that it wasn’t, forcing him to seek international bailouts that came with attached conditions of big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings he immediately embraced although they are antithetical to the principles of PASOK, which was founded by his father, Andreas Papandreou, also a former prime minister.