Greek socialists grab four more years
September 22, 1996
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 GMT)
ATHENS, Greece (CNN) - Greece's socialist Prime Minister
Costas Simitis won his first big political gamble Sunday,
handily holding off opposition conservatives in early
Simitis' win gives him full control over the Panhellenic
Socialist Movement (PASOK), a free hand to name a cabinet of
his choice and four years to implement his reform policies.
"Thank you for the mandate you gave the Panhellenic Socialist
Movement and me personally. Today the Greek people showed
that they wanted to walk down a new path," Simitis told a
crowd of cheering supporters, after claiming victory.
With interior ministry figures showing the socialists gaining
an insuperable lead, conservative New Democracy Party leader
Miltiades Evert quickly faced the inevitable and conceded
"I want to congratulate Mr. Simitis for his victory and I
hope he can overcome Greece's problems," said Evert, former
"I personally undertake the responsibility for my party's
defeat. I resign from the presidency of New Democracy," he
Differences between the two major parties were few, and they
were running close in the pre-election polls. Both favored
continuing austerity measures meant to bring Greece's
economy in line with its European Union partners.
It was a personal as well as professional victory for
Simitis. It was his party's first election without legendary
party founder and three-time prime minister Andreas
Simitis, 60, took over from the ailing Papandreou in January
and rose to be socialist party president in June after
Cars zipped through Athens with horns blaring and white and
green PASOK banners flying. Fireworks lit the capital skies,
and people danced in the streets.
Champagne flowed at PASOK party headquarters in central
Athens into the early hours of Monday. PASOK officials threw
red roses and carnations, symbols of socialism, into the
Across town, in the New Democracy headquarters, only a few
dozen people remained, arguing about what went wrong and
expressing concern about the party's future.
Stands with wine and sweets, put up earlier in the day to
help opposition voters celebrate, quietly disappeared.
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