Greece's Venizelos says election could decide euro membership-report

LONDON Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:40pm EDT

Leader of the Socialist PASOK party Evangelos Venizelos addresses the audience during a pre-election campaign rally in Patra, about 220 km (137 miles) west of Athens April 27, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Leader of the Socialist PASOK party Evangelos Venizelos addresses the audience during a pre-election campaign rally in Patra, about 220 km (137 miles) west of Athens April 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

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LONDON (Reuters) - Greece's Evangelos Venizelos, who will lead the ruling Socialists into the May 6 election, said in a newspaper interview on Tuesday that euro membership is not a certainty regardless of the outcome.

"There are certain misconceptions that worry me: for instance, the misconception that whatever happens we are not going to leave the euro," Venizelos is quoted as saying in the Guardian.

Venizelos, 55, quit as finance minister to lead the PASOK party after spearheading the marathon debt talks that were concluded with the world's biggest debt restructuring in March.

"Europe and the euro zone have no reason, rationally, to push Greece out of the euro. But this is a system in which many parties, many countries, many governments, many electorates participate and we could have events which, rationally, are not controllable," he is cited as saying.

He said Sunday's election is Greece's "most critical," with polls showing a rise in support for anti-bailout parties.

"The Greek people will have to give a clear answer as to whether it wants (to follow) a pro-European course, which is safe and responsible, or something else," he said in the article.

Venizelos, a constitutional law expert turned politician, was elected in March to take over PASOK from former Prime Minister George Papandreou with a mandate to revive the party's chances ahead of the polls.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Will Dunham)

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