Greece: Elections, Venizelos, Pasok's hard liner

04 May, 16:00

(ANSAmed) - ROME, MAY 4 - He promises to reform Greece's economic and tax model that has led the country to disaster and many Greeks to desperation and warns: ''without the socialists, those marching in goose step may seize power,'' referring to the far-right. Evangelos Venizelos, the stout leader of the Pasok party and hard-liner in the socialist camp was asked in March to lead the party to the elections. For the moment, his rhetoric skills and his stern looks have helped to raise the Greek socialist movement to almost 18% (from 8%), but the real test is waiting this Sunday, the elections. Venizelos, 55 years old, was the only candidate for the succession of former premier Giorgos Papandreou. Finance minister at the time, he was asked to manage the most difficult stage of Greece's negotiations with the troika aimed at securing the crucial 130 billion euro loan, needed to keep Greece from defaulting. Born in Thessaloniki, his electoral stronghold, and married with one daughter, Venizelos has been in politics since '93. He has always been the sworn ''enemy'' of Papandreou in the party.

Venizelos is generally seen as a pragmatic man. A highly appreciated constitutionalist, he tried to take the leadership of the socialist party in 2007 but was beaten by Papandreou. He was development minister in 1999 and minister of culture between 2000 and 2004, leading Greece to the Olympic Games. Even his opponents consider him to be one of the most skilled politicians in the country. The choice to have Venizelos lead the party is one of continuity, but at the same time also a break with the traditional political families (of Papandreou and, on the right wing, of former premier Costas Karamanlis).

When explaining the views of his party, Venizelos said that Pasok's main goal is to make Greece an economically autonomous country and, from an institutional viewpoint, an equal member of the European Union. To reach these goals, Venizelos underlined, a broad national alliance of pro-European forces is required.

Venizelos also announced a radical reform of the country's social security and healthcare system, in which ''all Greeks, excluding nobody, will have a right to treatment." (ANSAmed).

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