ATHENS – Following its last-place finish among parties entering Parliament, the once-powerful PASOK Socialists are set for a shakeup that will reportedly see its leader Evangelos Venizelos stepping aside.
PASOK won 44 percent of the vote in 2009 under George Papandreou who became Prime Minister but was hounded out of office in 2011 following relentless protests, strikes and riots against austerity measures he imposed on orders of international lenders.
When Venizelos took office he led PASOK into a failed coalition with New Democracy in 2012 and continued to back big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings that decimated support for his party, which won only 4.68 percent in the Jan. 25 election, rendering it irrelevant.
Kathinerini said that Venizelos is ready to resign and allow a new leader to take over the party that was further split when Papandreou, feuding with him, broke away from the party founded by his father, the late Premier Andreas Papandreou, and formed another called Kinima that railed to get enough votes to enter Parliament.
Former Deputy Defense Minister Fofi Gennimata and ex-Education Minister Andreas Loverdos are expected to be the only PASOK veterans that will challenge for the leadership at the congress after a number of prominent members, such as Michalis Chyrsochoidis, failed to be elected.
Other possible candidates are the party secretary Nikos Androulakis and fellow younger member Kyriakos Pierrakakis, both of whom would be able to argue that they are leading a rejuvenation of PASOK, which has seen its support plummet by almost 40 percentage points since October 2009.