Monday 01 July 1996
Mr Simitis had to grapple not only to win the support of the 5,000 delegates present, but also to overcome the emotional impact of Mr Papandreou's death a week ago. The 60-year-old premier had been an outspoken critic of the absolute authority Mr Papandreou wielded over both party and government, in complete contrast to his rival for the leadership, the staunch Papandreou loyalist Akis Tsochadzopoulos. In the end, Mr Simitis carried around 55 per cent of the congress - enough to assert greater authority over government policy after six months of virtual paralysis, but too slim a margin to ensure party unity from now until the general election which must be called within the next 16 months. His victory was likely to please Western governments who see him as the best man to bring Greece closer to Europe and patch up the country's disputes with its neighbours, especially Turkey. Andrew Gumbel
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