The appearance of former socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou at a book launch alongside Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis on Monday fueled upheaval within the ranks of beleaguered PASOK even though both Papandreou and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos appeared to play down the potential impact of the move.
Papandreou expressed surprise at the criticism prompted by his decision to attend the launch of a book by Marilena Koppa, a former MEP with PASOK and now a candidate on DIMAR’s ticket. He said he didn’t expect the discussion to “provoke such anticipation and concern.” The former premier noted that PASOK “should play a leading role in coalition governments but with a clear, progressive orientation,” a phrase reminiscent of Kouvelis’s rhetoric.
For his part, Venizelos noted that the two coalition governments, set up in 2011 and 2012, in which PASOK participated were both progressive, the latter more so due to the fact that two center-left parties were involved, PASOK and DIMAR.
Venizelos did not miss the opportunity to take a dig at his rival, who signed Greece’s first foreign bailout, referring to “a mistaken decision in the spring of 2010 for PASOK to shoulder the burden of the crisis alone.”
Earlier in the day, Michalis Kassis, who in 2012 quit PASOK over austerity before rejoining the party, expressed his anger at Papandreou’s move. “He’s betrayed us all,” he said.