ATHENS – With its party edging toward oblivion, the once-dominant PASOK Socialists elected Former minister Fofi Gennimata its leader.
She replaces Evanelos Venizelos, who quit after taking the party into last place in the Jan. 25 elections with 4.7 percent of the vote, a 90 percent decline since it won the 2009 elections under George Papandreou with almost 44 percent.
But then Papandreou, against the principles of the party founded by his father and former Premier, the late Andreas Papandreou, signed bailout deals with international lenders that came with harsh austerity measures that decimated the workers, pensioners and the poor, PASOK’s core constituency.
Venizelos, who was his finance minister, joined a coalition government in 2012 of Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras and was named Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in return for going along with more austerity and worker firings, for which he and PASOK paid a heavy price.
Gennimata was one of three candidates in the election which saw some 50,000 party members casting their ballots across Greece on June 14.
Gennimata, daughter of late PASOK official Giorgos Gennimatas, got more than 50 percent of the vote, leaving former minister Andreas Loverdos – who once had quit PASOK – and Odysseas Constantinopoulos far behind.
PASOK was established by Andreas Papandreou in 1974 but now has only 13 seats in the 300-member Parliament and is essentially irrelevant.
George Papandreou quit the party his father founded and set up a new party that failed to get into Parliament. After he quit as Prime Minister in 2011, hounded out of office by relentless protests, strikes and riots against austerity, he sat in back of the Parliament but spent much of his time giving speeches and teaching at American Ivy League colleges on how to govern a country.
Venizelos said he won’t quit politics but didn’t elaborate on what he meant.