Ex-Greek premier to form new party ahead of poll

AP News
Posted: Jan 02, 2015 12:43 PM
Ex-Greek premier to form new party ahead of poll

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The former Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, revealed plans Friday to create a new political party — a development that further complicates the landscape in Greece ahead of a snap general election later this month.

Papandreou, 62, announced the plan on his website, ahead of the Jan. 25 vote which is widely expected to see the anti-bailout Syriza party do well. Further details are expected Saturday after documents are filed to a high court.

Syriza has made great strides in Greece in recent years as it has taken many votes away from Pasok, the center-left party that Papandreou led back to government in 2009 and was in power during the height of the country's crippling financial crisis. Despite falling back sharply in 2012 elections, Pasok is currently a junior partner in the conservative-led government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Papandreou ignored public appeals not to split Pasok, the party created by his father in 1974 and which governed Greece for much of the time since. Pasok's descent is evident in its current opinion poll rating of around 5 percent.

"We are saddened by the immoral and irrational action taken by Mr. Papandreou, who has made a calculating attempt to divide Pasok a few days before the election," Pasok said in a statement.

The new party is likely to target those voters who have abandoned Pasok. Polls point to Syriza having to find coalition partners if it is to govern.

Syriza spokesman Panos Skourletis slammed Papandreou for being responsible for the crippling austerity measures that have been imposed on Greece in return for rescue money from its partners in the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund.

"There can be no form of cooperation with those who destroyed the country," he told private Vima FM radio.