PASOK and ND try to regroup after bailout vote

PASOK’s political council is due to meet on Thursday, when it is expected members will decide to speed up the process for electing a new party leader. New Democracy, meanwhile, is trying to contain the damage caused by the expulsion of 21 MPs who failed to support Greece’s new loan agreement in a parliamentary vote early Monday. PASOK also lost 22 lawmakers as a result of differing views over the so-called second memorandum. One of those, former Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis, blasted party leader George Papandreou on Tuesday. Kastanidis had backed Papandreou last November when he suggested a referendum be held to decide whether Greece should adopt a new bailout. The ex-minister said he felt it was wrong to approve the terms of the new loan deal in Parliament and not give voters a chance to express their views. “Mr Papandreou decided to expel his own conscience, not me,” Kastanidis told Skai TV. He did not rule out forming a new parliamentary group with the other ousted PASOK MPs. At its meeting tomorrow, the Socialist party’s political council is due to assess the fallout from a tumultuous few days and is also likely to agree on a process to choose Papandreou’s successor after government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis confirmed that snap elections would be held in April. New Democracy is also reeling from the fallout of the bailout vote. Former MP and outspoken conservative unionist Yiannis Manolis quit the party and launched an attack on ND president Antonis Samaras. “He decided to follow a different path, to make an about turn… you can continue on your own, Mr President.” In a bid to shift the focus to security, traditionally a strong area for the conservatives, Samaras visited police officers who were injured in Sunday’s rioting. “I do not think there are police forces in other European countries who have to put up with what ours does,” he said after leaving the hospital.  

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