Greek voters are set to go to the polls for the second time in the space of a few weeks. Efforts by the president to broker a compromise to form a government broke down on Tuesday.
Greek voters are set to go to the polls for the second time in a less than two months after a last-ditch attempt to form a government broke down on Tuesday.
A spokesman for President Karolos Papoulias told reporters in Athens that his latest efforts to broker a compromise among the parties that finished strongest in the inconclusive May 6 election had been fruitless. He did not give a date for the new polls but elections rules suggest it should be in about a month’s time.
The president was expected to appoint a caretaker government on Wednesday to lead the country up until next month's vote.
"For God's sake, let's move towards something better and not something worse” Evangelos Venizelos, the leader of the socialist Pasok party said after the meeting. "Our motherland can find its way, we will fight for it to find its way."
Greece has been in political limbo since the last election, which voters used to punish Pasok and the conservative New Democracy party, both of which supported tough austerity measures demanded by international lenders in return for the country's 130 billion euro ($166 billion) financial bailout.
With a combined 149 seats, the two parties alone could not form a majority in the 300-seat parliament. This forced Venizelos and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras to try to reach a compromise with leaders of parties who either want to scrap the austerity measures altogether or renegotiate the terms of the bailout.
A key player in those efforts was the left-wing SYRIZA party, which finished second on May 6. However its refusal to back down on its strict anti-austerity stance made reaching a deal impossible.
The failure to form a new government that would ensure that Greece would meet its international bailout commitments has cast doubt over not only the country’s own economic future but also the future of the eurozone.
There was no sign on Tuesday that Greece’s major economic partners were willing to renegotiate the bailout.
Following a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said the deal had been agreed in negotiations and that renegotiating the “economic elements” of the agreement was completely out of the question.
pfd/sej (Reuters, AP, AFP)