Greeks attempt third coalition deal under Evangelos Venizelos amid bankruptcy fears

 

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."

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn