Greece's ruling coalition hit by departure of Democratic Left

The junior partner's 14 legislators have left the agreement, over the closure of the state broadcaster

Greece's ruling coalition government has been left with a tiny majority after the junior partner left in disagreement over the abrupt closure of the state broadcaster.

Last week, prime minister Antonis Samaras announced he had pulled the plug on ERT, sacking all 2,656 employees. Both Pasok and the Democratic Left - who support Samaras' conservative-led coalition - objected to the decision.

And today, the Democratic Left party has left the coalition.

The leftist party's departure will be a blow to the conservative Samaras, who is left with a three-seat majority in parliament, making it tougher to pass unpopular reforms, including the pledged sackings of 15,000 public sector employees by 2015 in return for the country's international bailout money.

Democratic Left have yet to decide whether to offer external support in parliament to keep the bailout on track.

In a televised statement, Samaras said: "I want us to continue together as we started but I will move on either way."

His spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou, said Samaras had sufficient majority "to lead the country out of the crisis".

The reforms are demanded by Greece's foreign creditors. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund will next month inspect whether the country remains on course to make the cuts.

Samaras's conservative New Democracy party and its remaining socialist PASOK ally command 153 deputies in the 300-seat parliament, so they can muddle through for a while without the 14 departing lawmakers.

At least two independent legislators have suggested they would back Samaras's government, which came to power a year ago in an uneasy pro-bailout coalition aimed at ensuring Greece stayed in the euro zone after nearly going bankrupt.

The coalition has bickered over a range of issues from austerity policies to immigration, and lawmakers from Samaras's parties have accused Democratic Left of blocking public sector reforms needed to secure bailout funds.

Officials from all three parties ruled out snap elections, which would derail the bailout programme, for now.

"The country doesn't need elections," Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis said in a statement, saying the party would continue with its reform policy.

The decision to pull out was not unanimous and four party officials later called it a "suicidal" move. "This was a leap into the void," they said in a statement.

ERT remains off air despite the high court ruling that it be brought back on. Workers have continued broadcasting an online 24-hour bootleg version from their headquarters.

The corporation's payroll costs have fallen since the country's first bailout in 2010. It makes money primarily through adverts and obligatory contributions from all Greeks, whether they own a TV or not.

After years of murky finances, the corporation is now turning a modest profit, and critics argue that sacking its entire workforce makes no financial sense, particularly as the government will have to compensate all laid-off workers.

The closure on June 11 sparked days of protests outside the corporation's Athens headquarters, and was sharply criticised abroad.

PASOK is expected to get a bigger role in the government after Democratic Left's departure, with its lawmakers likely to fill more ministerial positions as part of a reshuffle expected as early as over the weekend.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones