The center-right New Democracy party is unlikely to win an outright majority in Greece's parliamentary elections this weekend, but its leader still refuses to consider a coalition with the Socialists.
The leader of Greece's main conservative party said Thursday he would not seek a coalition government with the Socialists after this weekend's elections, setting the stage for what many analysts expect will be a political impasse.
Antonis Samaras, head of the center-right New Democracy party, told a crowd of hundreds of cheering supporters in Athens that he would seek a "strong mandate in the name of political stability."
"A coalition would not be in the interests of the Greek people, but only of PASOK, and that would condemn Greeks to stagnation," he said, using the acronym for the Socialist party led by Evangelos Venizelos.
But Samaras warned that a vote for a smaller party "would provide grist for PASOK's mill by getting in the way of a strong mandate for New Democracy."
For the last six months, Greece has been ruled by a fragile coalition including both New Democracy and the Socialists and headed by technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
The economy is indisputably the chief issue in Greece. Gross domestic product is expected to contract for a fifth straight year, unemployment exceeds 20 percent and despite stinging austerity the government still forecasts a budget deficit of 7 percent.
acb/nrt (AFP, AP)