Tuesday

24th Oct 2017

First coalition attempt fails in Greece

  • Radical left leader Alexis Tsipras will try to form a government on Tuesday (Photo: Asteris Masouras)

Greek Conservatives failed to cobble together a coalition on Monday (7 May), with leftist leader Alexis Tsipras set to try and form a government opposing the "barbaric" bail-out, a move that would put into question the country's future in the eurozone.

"I tried to find a solution for a government of national salvation, with two aims: for the country to remain in the euro and to change the policy of the bailout by renegotiation," Conservative leader Antonis Samaras said in a televised address on Monday.

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"We directed our proposal to all the parties that could have participated in such an effort, but they either directly rejected their participation, or they set as a condition the participation of others who did not accept," Samaras explained, one day after his New Democracy party won the most seats in the Greek parliament (108), but insufficient to rule alone or together with its former ally, the centre-left Pasok party.

Syriza, a radical-left alliance that came in second and gained 52 seats in the 300-strong legislature, refused to join the government. Its leader, 37-year old Alexis Tsipras, is fiercely opposed to the austerity measures linked to the €130 billion bail-out negotiated by the former government.

"We want to create a government of leftist forces in order to escape the bailout leading us to bankruptcy," he said Monday after rejecting Samaras' offer.

But even with the support of Pasok, the Communists and the Democratic left, Tsipras will be 13 seats short of a majority.

If he also fails to form a coalition, the last attempt will be passed on to Pasok leader and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose party was the main loser in the Sunday elections.

Venizelos has pledged to try and buy some more time in meeting the conditions attached to the funding programme.

Germany's leader Angela Merkel and EU commission officials on Monday however made it crystal clear that no re-negotiation of the bail-out terms is possible.

If Venizelos also cannot manage to form a government, fresh elections will be called in early June, further complicating the bail-out calendar. A further €11.5 billion worth of budget cuts need to be passed by the end of June if Greece is to receive its next tranche.

"It is necessary for the government of national unity to include all the forces that have a pro-European outlook," Venizelos said. "The minimum level of agreement is that Greece remains in the euro."

The only party that is completely ruled out of any government coalition is Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party which entered for the first time in the parliament and gained 21 seats.

Radical left and neo-Nazis score well in Greek elections

Greek voters have punished the two ruling parties responsible for the last EU bail-out by giving the radical left the second highest number of votes and allowing a neo-Nazi party into the legislature for the first time.

Germany: eurozone would survive Greek exit

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble has said the eurozone would survive if Greece left it, with the single currency structures more resilient than two years ago.

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

Eurozone finance ministers will gather in Brussels on Monday amid heightened speculation about Greece's future in the single currency.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

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