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Greek FinMin elected new socialist leader ahead of general elections

(Xinhua)

08:40, March 19, 2012

ATHENS, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos was elected as the new leader of the socialist PASOK party on Sunday in internal elections, ahead of the early general polls due later this spring.

According to early information from the party's headquarters in Athens, more than 200,000 party members participated in the procedure across Greece.

With about 25 percent of votes counted, Venizelos who was running unopposed, wins about 96 percent of the votes, local television channels broadcast.

"Greek citizens reiterated today that they want a strong progressive leadership to manage the crisis. .. Today I assume the responsibility to lead a joint effort aiming at the country's rebirth," Venizelos told the press after the ballots closed, referring to the debt crisis that has hit Greece since late 2009, threatening the country with a disorderly default.

In 2007, when former prime minister and outgoing PASOK party president George Papandreou was elected to the party's top post, defeating Venizelos, some 800,000 party members had voted. But the harsh austerity drive has taken a toll on the party's popularity.

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