Tense Pasok leadership meeting concludes

Venizelos: Party debt grew by €10m a year from 2003 to 2011

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Pasok's dire financial situation and Evangelos Venizelos' attendance at the foundation of a rival to the Socialist International, of which George Papandreou remains head, dominated Thursday's meeting

George Papandreou (L) and Evangelos Venizelos in happier days (Photo: Reuters) George Papandreou (L) and Evangelos Venizelos in happier days (Photo: Reuters) Pasok’s debt grew by 10m euros every year from 2003 to 2011, party leader Evangelos Venizelos told his political council on Thursday during a meeting dominated by the dire state of the party's finances.

Tensions have been simmering within Pasok since reports of a "black hole" in the party's coffers emerged, with accusations of financial mismanagement during the leadership of George Papandreou.

Venizelos announced that Pasok will present a proposal for managing finances and funding, pointing out that “the other parties will not hide again behind Pasok’s firm decision to draw a dividing line with the past.”

“The last couple of days the issue of Pasok’s finances made the headlines in the most unusual way, because the issue has been known and open for some time now, and it concerns all political parties,” Venizelos said.

He said that the audit of the party's finances expected to be presented to the political council had not been submitted yet.

At a recent meeting with the former prime minister, Venizelos had reportedly said that the party had borrowed almost €116.5m under Papandreou's leadership.

This, together with a 90% reduction in government funding, has left the party with "virtually no subsidies" to cover its operating costs, Venizelos told Papandreou.

Papandreou, who was replaced as Pasok leader by Venizelos in March 2012, remains an MP and is also president of the Socialist International, a worldwide association of social democratic parties.

But that organisation is now facing a split, after the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) announced that it was setting up a replacement body, to be known as the Progressive Alliance, at its federal congress later this month.

To add insult to Papandreou's injury, Venizelos has declared that he will attend the founding congress of the new body in the German city of Leipzig on May 22.

Venizelos told the council meeting that the Progressive Alliance was not founded “as a substitute for another international body”, but as new space for cooperation.

Last December, the Pasok leader attended a meeting in Rome where the decision to form the Progressive Alliance was made.

The SPD, which cancelled its subscription to the Socialist International last year, says a new organisation is necessary because undemocratic and "despotic" parties remain in the existing organisation. 

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