Greek Political Leaders to Discuss Technocrat Government

Posted May 15th, 2012 at 7:40 am (UTC-5)
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Greek political leaders are holding another round of talks Tuesday aimed at resolving a political crisis that could force the debt-plagued nation out of the eurozone.

President Karolos Papoulias is asking leaders to form a technocratic government run by distinguished experts and academics, instead of politicians and bureaucrats. But the leader of the moderate Democratic Left party, Fotis Kouvelis, has rejected Mr. Papoulias' proposal as a failure of politics.

The stalemate has led to rising concerns among eurozone financial ministers that Athens will not uphold its commitments and eventually will leave the 17-nation bloc that uses the euro currency. But the eurozone finance chief, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, dismissed the prospect Monday after a meeting with his counterparts in Brussels, calling the speculation “propaganda.”

Mr. Juncker suggested the eurozone could extend the deadlines reached in the previous agreements, as long as the new government remained committed to its targeted budget cuts.

Political leaders have been struggling to put together a coalition government since last week's parliamentary elections resulted in a deadlock, as voters angrily rejected austerity pacts the previous government reached with the European Union, in exchange for massive financial bailout packages. None of the three top parties won enough seats to form a government on its own.

The three parties — the conservative New Democracy, the radical left Syriza, and the socialist PASOK — were each given a chance to form a coalition. But none of them were able to find enough support to put together a new government.

Mr. Papoulias has until Thursday to broker a deal. If he fails, Greece will have to hold new elections next month.

The economic measures include deep spending cuts, tax hikes, pension cuts, and eliminating thousands of government jobs. Greeks have taken to the streets in sometimes violent protests against the bailout requirements.