Thursday

23rd May 2019

Greek leaders return to talks as coalition deal founders

  • Papademos (l) celebrating Slovakia's entry into the EU with EU officials and finance ministers (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

An agreement on a Greek national unity government to be headed by the parliament's speaker has fallen apart apart at the 11th hour, deepening the country’s political turmoil just weeks before the country is expected to run out of cash.

The outgoing centre-left prime minister, George Papandreou, had delivered a televised farewell address and he and the leader of the conservative New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, had begun a meeting with the president, Karolos Papoulias, where Papandreou was to have delivered his resignation.

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However, it emerged that the two sides continued to be at loggerheads over the prime minister's chosen successor, Filippos Petsalnikos, a former justice minister and long-time ally of Papandreou.

The meeting with the head of state was cut short and leaders of Greece’s two main political parties are to return to talks on Thursday morning (10 November) now the fourth day of negotiations, to attempt to piece back together a deal.

Substantial numbers of both Pasok and New Democracy MPs are understood to be unhappy with the figure of Petsalnikos, viewed as a man to be too close to Papandreou.

The name of Lucas Papademos, the country's representative at the European Central Bank from 2002 to 2010, is once more in the frame.

But Papademos has insisted on a longer term in office than either two parties wish, according to senior government sources, extending his term past the 19 February date for fresh elections that both sides have agreed to.

The ECB man also is understood do want more MPs in the government from the opposition benches.

Meanwhile, other characters that have been mooted as potential leaders are mostly technocratic figures, which the Greek mainstream political class hopes will return confidence to markets, including ex-European commissioner Stavros Dimas; the president of the European Court of Justice, Vassileios Skouris; EU ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, and Panagiotis Roumeliotis, the country’s representative on the International Monetary Fund board.

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