Democratic Left to Back Greek Coalition

Posted June 20th, 2012 at 6:30 am (UTC-5)
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The head of Greece's small Democratic Left party says it will support a coalition government led by the conservative New Democracy party, which won the most seats in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Fotis Kouvelis said Wednesday he expects the announcement of a final agreement later in the day.

The coalition will likely also include the PASOK party, which finished third in the voting and joins New Democracy in supporting international bailouts for Greece.

The country's president had given New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras until Wednesday to form a coalition after his party captured 129 of the 300 seats in parliament.

The second-place Syriza party has refused to join a coalition. Its leader said Greece needs to have a strong opposition and that history will prove that the bailouts and accompanying sharp spending cuts were wrong for Greece.

The monetary crisis in Greece exploded in 2009 and set off a chain reaction across Europe. Greece is now in its fifth year of recession, with unemployment more than 22 percent. Greeks have filled the streets in often violent protests against the austerity drive, which includes spending cuts, tax hikes, and firing thousands of civil servants.