Greek Leaders Fail to Form Coalition

A third attempt to forge a coalition in Greece has failed as the leader of a radical party committed to a complete revision of the country’s critical EU bailout refused an invitation to joint rule.

By Alex Spillius, Athens and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels, The Telegraph – May 11, 2012

http://tinyurl.com/bwqtupd

The latest round of talks failed after the left wing leader who wants to renegotiate the country’s critical EU bailout refused to join forces with parties that support the austerity measures.

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Radical Left Coalition or Syriza, said his presence in the proposed coalition was merely being sought by more established, pro-bailout parties as a “Leftwing accomplice”.

Evangelos Venizelos, the leader of the socialist Pasok party, admitted the talks had failed and said he would return his mandate to form a government to the president today.

A slim chance remains that an emergency “national unity” government could be formed if the president can convince the parties to work together.

But given the rancour on display, a new election next month is a more likely outcome, a scenario that would weaken confidence in Greece’s ability to meet its debts to international creditors and stay in the euro.

Though the Syriza leader slightly softened his tone yesterday, he has called the conditions of Greece’s financial rescue plan “barbaric” and vowed to tear it up.

Mr Venizelos accused Mr Tsipras, a charismatic 37-year-old who has taken the political scene by storm, of “arrogance” and failing to “face up to his political responsibilities”.

Hopes of a breakthrough had been raised on Thursday when the small Democratic Left party proposed a national unity government that would seek to gradually extricate Greece from its two loan deals, worth a record 240 billion euros.

Expectations increased further when Antonis Samaras, leader of the largest party New Democracy, declared he could work with Pasok and Democratic Left and its leader Fotis Kouvelis.

However those hopes receded when the latter decided for sure that he would not join a government without Syriza, which polled a surprising second place in Sunday’s election after a strident campaign against the high levels of austerity in the EU rescue plan. He said its absence would ignore the angry message of the election.

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