Socialists get decisive mandate in Greece


Leader of the Greek Socialist party George Papandreou waves to supporters in Athens on Sunday. ReutersLeader of the Greek Socialist party George Papandreou waves to supporters in Athens on Sunday. Reuters

Appointments to the key finance, foreign and economy ministry posts were expected on Tuesday, and Greek media were reporting that Papandreou might take one of the first two jobs for himself to emphasise how seriously he took the crisis.

With 99 per cent of Sunday’s vote counted, results showed the PASOK had thrashed the conservative New Democracy party, which suffered the worst showing in its history.The PASOK won a comfortable majority of 160 seats in the 300-member parliament.

It was a personal victory for US-born Papandreou, 57, who was handpicked in 2004 to lead the party his father Andreas founded, partly on the strength of his name, only to twice lose to another scion of a political family, Costas Karamanlis.

“What is impressive in this parliamentary election is that George Papandreou crushed his opponent with the largest percentage difference in the last 35 years,” said Anthony Livanios, political analyst at polling agency Alpha Metrics.

Karamanlis gave up his role as party chief when he conceded the election on Sunday night.
Even more difficult challenges now lie ahead. Greece’s budget deficit tops six per cent of the GDP — well above the EU limit of three per cent. Unemployment is rising and the public is clamouring for solutions to urgent crises in endemic corruption, education, social security and immigration.

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