Greek Conservative Leader Gets Three Days to Form Government

Posted June 18th, 2012 at 3:30 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras has three days to form a coalition government, after his pro-bailout party won the most seats in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

The New Democracy party won 129 of the 300 seats in parliament, including the 50-seat bonus given to the party with the most votes.

The radical leftist and anti-bailout Syriza party came in second with 71 seats. The pro-bailout PASOK Socialists won 33 seats — which are likely to be enough to help the conservatives form a ruling coalition.

A meeting between Mr. Samaras and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras failed to bring an agreement on a new government. Tsipras says his party will not join the coalition, but will continue its role as the anti-bailout opposition.

“There must be a government soon and soon we must take on the very significant role of the national opposition, so that we can monitor the government and at the same time, history and the people will judge their strategy and their solutions as well as ours.”

Mr. Samaras has now turned to the Socialists, which also support the economic bailout for Greece.

“Mr. Tsipras is not willing to participate in such a government of such a coalition. I believe that the government should immediately be formed. It is something that is required and as I stated – by the developments, by the economic situation, by the reality and by the vote of the Greek people. So, that's what we are trying to do.''

Interim Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos said Monday that a new government needs to be sworn in as soon as possible, adding that the problems of the country “cannot wait for very long.''

At the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, U.S. President Barack Obama says the Greek election indicates a positive prospect for Greece, not only for a new government, but for the Greek people to have the chance to succeed and prosper.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso say the European Union looks forward to working with the new Greek government and supports efforts to put Greece's economy on a sustainable path.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy and a major contributor to Greece's two multi-billion-dollar bailouts, suggests Greece could get more time to comply with sharp spending cuts tied to the rescue funds. New Democracy has promised to renegotiate the harsh austerity conditions demanded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Tsipras had called for annulling the austerity package altogether, which could have forced Greece to leave Europe's common currency.

Sunday's vote came after last month's election failed to bring about a new government.

The monetary crisis in Greece, which first exploded in 2009, set off a chain reaction across Europe. Greece is now in its fifth year of recession, with unemployment spiraling to above 22 percent. Opinion polls show that Greeks overwhelmingly favor remaining in the euro, but are just as opposed to the austerity drive.