Greeks attempt third coalition deal under Evangelos Venizelos amid bankruptcy fears
Thursday 10 May 2012
Greek power-sharing talks entered a third and final round today, as parties in the crisis-hit country struggled to hammer out a coalition deal after general elections produced no outright winner.
The mandate to seek coalition partners passed to Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, whose traditionally dominant PASOK party was hammered in Sunday's poll, pushed into third place with just 13.2% of the vote.
He is the third party leader to try to find an agreement.
Antonis Samaras, whose conservative New Democracy won the most votes, and runner-up Alexis Tsipras, who heads the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, have already tried and failed.
A major stumbling block has been Tsipras' insistence that Greece's tough austerity programme, which is part of its international bailout commitments, be cancelled or frozen. Both Samaras and Venizelos argue such a move would be catastrophic for the country, and would lead Greece out of the euro.
Venizelos has three days in which to seek some form of agreement, although since all the party leaders have already met during the previous two rounds, that looks unlikely.
"Things are not easy," he said. "I am not declaring myself optimistic. But I am declaring myself responsible, and dedicated to this aim that I believe serves the national interest."
If his efforts fail, President Karolos Papoulias will convene all the leaders in a last-ditch attempt to cobble together a coalition. If that is also unsuccessful, new elections will be called for early June, prolonging the political uncertainty.
Speaking earlier in parliament, Venizelos said he believed an agreement was possible.
"If the parties show a minimum level of responsibility, we believe this parliament can produce a government that is viable, responsible and one that can do something better for this country," he said.
Venizelos, however, sharply criticised a proposal by Syriza to impose a moratorium on debt payments.
"This would lead the country to formal bankruptcy, cutting it off the international banking system, and world markets, halting imports and exports and lines of credit to businesses. Greece would become Albania of the 1960s."
Markets, in the doldrums since Greece's election stalemate, partially rebounded, with shares on the Athens Stock Exchange up 2.15% at 628.64 in early afternoon trading.
But new unemployment figures showed the jobless rate reaching 21.7% in February, after more than 900 people lost their jobs every day on average in the previous 12 months.
In return for billions of euros in rescue loans from other European Union countries and the International Monetary Fund, Greece imposed harsh austerity measures that saw salaries and pensions slashed, tens of thousands of people lose their jobs and businesses close down.
Anger at the past two years of austerity and the deep financial crisis saw voters desert the formerly dominant two main parties and flock to smaller parties on the right and left. Syriza saw a strong boost, bringing the party into second place with 16.8 %.
"The people have punished PASOK, because they considered it responsible for the crisis," Venizelos said.
But, Venizelos said the election result was a clear message that the Greek people rejected the dominance of any one party.
"It is clear from the result that the people want a coalition government, handing no clear mandate to any single party," Venizelos told his party's deputies. "The Greek people want to remain in the euro."
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
China's 'Inconvenient Truth': video exposing country’s smog crisis watched 100 million times
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...