PASOK's new chief concludes meeting with political council

Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday afternoon concluded his first meeting with PASOK's political council, just over a week after being elected, unrivaled, to the Socialist party's leadership and after resigning from the post of finance minister.

Venizelos made his first appointments to the party's top positions, spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata said, naming deputy Parliamentary speaker Vangelis Argyris as organizational secretary, Christina Manolopoulou as the secretary of his political office and Nikos Salayiannis as director general of the party, replacing Rovertos Spyropoulos who will act in an advisory capacity in the runup to general elections.

During the four-hour meeting, Venizelos confirmed that PASOK is looking at May 6 as the most likely date for general elections to be conducted, saying that a NATO summit scheduled for May 20 -- whose agenda includes a discussion on Greece's dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia -- «puts some pressure on us to set a date for the elections.»

On the issue of PASOK's pre-election strategy, Venizelos said he would be launching a two-pronged «assault on the left and on the right,» adding that the issue at hand is not the makeup of the next government but the manner in which it plans to govern the country.

In an apparent acknowledgement of mistakes made in the past by his predecessor at the helm of the Socialist party and former Prime Minister George Papandreou, as well as by PASOK which was in power between 2009-2011, Venizelos said that if Greece had implemented structural reforms earlier it «could have avoided horizontal cuts.» He added that the country needs a «strategy» to counterbalance painful austerity measures «in order to safeguard the sacrifices of the Greek people.»

Venizelos is due on Wednesday to announce the composition of his campaign team, which will include special organizing committees for the pre-election race in Attica and Thessaloniki. 

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