by Aggelos Skordas
With a voter turnout that exceeded all expectations PASOK leader, Fofi Gennimata, secured a significant lead in the first round of the new center-left party leader elections on Sunday, maintaining high expectations that she will achieve a clear victory over her fellow candidate, MEP and former secretary of PASOK Nikos Androulakis, at this coming Sunday’s, November 19, second and final round.
According to the Independent Ethics Committee tasked with supervising the election and headed by Professor Nikos Alivizatos, with some 94% of the votes counted by late Monday, Gennimata received 41.2% and Androulidakis 24.85%. It is estimated that more than 210,000 people cast their ballot for the process in roughly 1,000 polling stations, both in Greece and in a number of countries abroad. Voters were charged three euros to register and only those who participated in the first round are allowed to vote in the runoff.
As for the rest of candidates’ results Athens’ Mayor Giorgos Kaminis secured 13.78%, To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis 10.78%, former ministers Giannis Maniatis 4.51% and Giannis Ragoussis 2.43%, former Economic University of Athens Rector Konstantinos Gatsios 1.71%, EDEM leader Apostolos Pontas 0.54% and communication specialist Dimitris Tziotis 0.20%. The new party’s core, which is expected to be officially formed after the leader’s election and a charter conference, will be based on PASOK and To Potami, both currently represented in the Greek parliament.
Referring to the elections outcome, Fofi Gennimata pointed out that the voters with their participation took a decisive step towards the creation of a progressive party, in what is received as an inspiring event for the country’s political life. At the same time, she underlined that the centre-left coalition’s initiative had paid off and that the high participation rate proved that voters’ gave a mandate of unity and change: “The 212,000 Greeks are co-founders on the grand center-left. They gave a mandate of unity and change. They proved our initiative right. They sent a message of resistance to the downward trend and the government’s imperiousness and for reaction to the conservatism and austerity. With a united central-left party we are facing a major change, bringing the real new to our political life. We break the blatant bipartition and open new roads for the country.”
On his behalf runner-up Nikos Androulakis described himself as the candidate of the younger generation: “We need to listen to the majority of our fellow citizens. We are now starting. For the next day we are asking for a strong mandate for renewal and generational change. I am here to join forces for the party’s and the country’s rebirth.” “Our ideas, our proposals, and the people who represent us will be present”, Giorgos Kaminis said indicating that he continues to seek a role in the new party that is capable of changing the country’s route.
Stavros Theodorakis congratulated the two candidates for their results on the first round, although To Potami officials and party members called for the convention of an extraordinary party congress raising an issue of leadership. Expressing their disagreement with Theodoraki’s candidacy for the new center-left party leadership, characterized it as a personal decision: “He arbitrarily decided the suspension of the operation of To Potami and its absorption into what he was struggling against, the old political system”, was highlighted among others in a statement entitled “Independent course of Potami-Congress now” and signed by 59 party members and officials.