Socialists sweep polls in Greece

ATHENS:Greek socialist leader George Papandreou today received a mandate to form a government from President Karolos Papoulias following his sweeping victory yesterday’s general elections.

“This is a great responsibility and a difficult time,” said Papandreou, whose Pasok party roundly beat the departing New Democracy conservatives by more than ten points, according to nearly complete results.

“The breadth of our victory shows the hope of the people and their desire to make important reforms,” he told Papoulias, a veteran socialist politician who served as foreign minister under Papandreou’s father Andreas two decades ago. Under the constitution Papandreou, 57, has three days to form a government. He is expected to name a cabinet tomorrow. The new PM must work quickly to fix a stagnant economy and come to an arrangement with the European Commission, which has targeted Greece over its excessive budget deficit. Papandreou says he has a 100-day plan to stimulate the economy by creating jobs and cleaning up public finances. He has promised new laws to redistribute income to the poor, boost public investment and clamp down on corruption.