PASOK plans public rally in Athens to round off election campaign

Undeterred by verbal and physical attacks on politicians and its low poll ratings, PASOK plans to hold an open-air rally in central Athens on Friday, May 4 to round off its election campaign.
Source said that party officials held talks on Monday to discuss the issue and the consensus appears to be that the rally, at which PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos will deliver his closing campaign speech, should go ahead.
PASOK was elected to power in November 2009 with almost 44 percent of the vote but its handling of the economic crisis has seen the party’s popularity plummet. Earlier this year, some opinion polls showed support for PASOK as low as 8 percent but the Socialists’ fortunes have been revived somewhat since Venizelos took over the leadership from George Papandreou in March.

Last week’s Public Issue poll for Kathimerini had PASOK in second place on 14 percent. Venizelos says he wants PASOK to overtake New Democracy at the ballot box and party sources said the May 4 rally, which is due to be held at Syntagma Square in front of Parliament, is designed to be a final push to boost the Socialists’ hopes before the general elections on Sunday, May 6.
Nevertheless, PASOK’s plans have raised some eyebrows given the frequency of attacks on politicians when they appear in public. There have been dozen of such incidents over the last two years with the most recent one coming on Monday night, when one of PASOK’s most prominent members, Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, was harangued.
Diamantopoulou had been addressing an audience in Kaisariani, eastern Athens, when she was verbally harassed by a group of protesters.

“I am not afraid of fascist-like behaviour, wherever it comes from,” she said. “I am open to the power of the spoken word and criticism but not to violence and shouting.”


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