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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

4 Greeks Declare Bids for Premier


ATHENS -- Four leading Greek socialists Tuesday made public their candidacy to replace Premier Andreas Papandreou after the ailing prime minister resigned Monday.

The 76-year-old Papandreou has been in intensive care for nearly two months and opposition lawmakers had urged him to step down. Socialist ministers, however, have been nearly paralyzed on the issue.

The candidates to replace Papandreou include the two top contenders, former Industry Minister Costas Simitis and Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, along with Interior Minister and acting Premier Akis Tsochadzopoulos and former Deputy Premier Ioannis Haralambopoulos. Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis was expected to announce his intentionWednesday.

Government spokesman Telemachus Hytiris said President Constantinos Stephanopoulos would sign a decree later Tuesday formally accepting Papandreou's resignation.

Papandreou's resignation does not necessarily mean he will cease to influence his party or the new premier.

"This is not the end of politics," Hytiris said, adding that Papandreou would retain his seat as a deputy and his job as head of the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or Pasok, that he founded in 1974.

Papandreou delighted his ardent socialist supporters with wild anti-American and anti-European Union rhetoric during his 1981 to 1989 administrations.

He restored Greece's political balance, becoming the first socialist premier. His win signalled the reintegrating of the left into mainstream politics for the first time since a 1946-49 civil war.

He also set a course for an ambitious welfare state, which almost bankrupted Greece, and his flamboyance and bravado helped rebuild national pride after the dark days of a 1967-74 military junta.

But Papandreou was always an enigma. A Harvard-educated economist and for 20 years a U.S. citizen, he embraced radical Third World politics and delighted in infuriating the West.

Poor health after open-heart surgery in 1988 had tamed the socialist firebrand. He paid an official visit to Washington and worked largely within the limits of the European Union.

His third term was best known abroad for the ambitions and nude photographs published of his wife, Dimitra Liani, 40.

She became his chief of staff and controlled all access to him, enraging many veteran socialists when she built a luxurious villa and paraded her political ambitions.

Liani, a former airline hostess, was eventually pushed aside by a steamroller of top socialists and the Papandreou family, which has cast her as a homewrecker since her affair with Papandreou in 1988. ()