Greek conservatives can’t form coalition government


New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras gave a pre-election speech at the Zapeion Hall in Athens on April 22, 2012.

Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras has failed in talks on forming a unity government after being shunned by anti-austerity parties that made strong gains in Sunday’s parliamentary election.
“I tried to form a coalition government with two goals: that the country remain in the euro and bailout policies change to include growth measures,” Samaras said in a televised address on Monday.”I did what I could to get a result but it was not possible. As such, I have informed the president of the republic and handed back the mandate,” he added.

President Karolos Papoulia had given Samaras a three-day mandate to put together a coalition after his New Democracy party received the largest share of the vote in Sunday’s election.

The task of forming a government will now pass to Alexis Tsipras, the leader of SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left), which won the second highest number of votes.

Tsipras, who is opposed to austerity measures, will also have three days to negotiate a coalition. He said he will try to form a left-wing coalition to cancel the “barbaric” measures associated with the European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout deal.

“We will exhaust all possibilities to reach an understanding, primarily with the forces of the left,” he said.

Greek voters, angry about the high unemployment rate and severe cuts to pension and pay, punished the pro-austerity parties, New Democracy and socialist PASOK, for imposing harsh austerity measures to address the country’ debt crisis.

The outcome of the Greek parliamentary election combined with the electoral defeat of the ruling party in France has caused alarm among EU leaders. The euro fell for the sixth successive day, down to $1.3049.

European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said Brussels expects the future government of Greece to respect Greece’s prior agreements with the EU and the IMF.

Greece is the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis. One in five workers is unemployed and banks are in a shaky situation, while pensions and salaries have been slashed by up to 40 percent.

MN/MF/HGL

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