Greek Political Leaders Fail to Form Government

Posted May 12th, 2012 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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Greek Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos is expected to turn over the responsibility of forming a unity government to the president of Greece on Saturday after failing to resolve a political gridlock and avert the need for new elections.

On Friday, Venizelos announced the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, refused to join the Socialists and conservatives in a unity government due to a disagreement on the country's economic austerity program. The Socialist and conservative New Democracy parties have proposed a gradual phasing out of the tough measures imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in exchange for a bailout loan. The leftists want those measures canceled immediately. If there is no lasting agreement by May 17, new elections will be called.

President Karolos Papoulias is expected to call on parties to form an emergency coalition to govern until new elections are held.

Greek voters punished both the Socialists and New Democracy for having pushed through the tough economic austerity measures in return for huge international loans to avert bankruptcy.

Venizelos is the third Greek leader who tried and failed to form a government after the inconclusive election last Sunday.

Earlier Friday, Venizelos met with the leader of the Conservative Party, Antonis Samaras, for talks on a coalition government. Another possible ally, the small Democratic Left party, said it would not join a government made up only of Socialists and the conservative New Democracy party and that did not include Syriza.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said the Greek people voted against the austerity measures imposed by the European Union and IMF, and that their will cannot be ignored.

New Democracy won the most parliamentary seats in Sunday's election, followed by the Radical Left and the Socialists. But no party won enough seats to be able to put together a new government on its own.

European Union leaders are pressuring Greece to carry through with the austerity plans. Germany warned Friday that Greece will get no more money without reforms and that the euro zone can survive if the cash-strapped country leaves Europe's 17-member currency union.