The leader of the Greek conservative party New Democracy says he is unable to form a coalition with any of the other parties, just one day after elections produced a hung parliament.
Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras said Monday his efforts to reach consensus with other parties in parliament have failed, raising the possibility of a quick do-over of Sunday's elections.
Samaras, chief of the center-right New Democracy, had been given a mandate by President Carolos Papoulias to seek to form a coalition. But after meeting with leaders of several other parties, he announced that no coalition was possible.
"I tried to find a solution for a government of national salvation, with two aims: for the country to remain in the euro and to change the policy of the bailout by renegotiation," Samaras said in a televised address. He added that his party "did everything possible," but that he was met with either outright rejection or impossible pre-conditions.
Samaras had three days to put together a coalition, but his quick announcement passes the mandate to Alexis Tsipras, the 38-year-old leader of the second-placed Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza. If Tsipras also fails after three days, Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the socialist PASOK, takes over the negotiations.
If none of the parties is able to form a government, the president must call new elections.
No more unity government
Chief among the many problems at issue in Greece is the country's two bailouts. Creditors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund have demanded draconian austerity measures from Athens as a condition for receiving the emergency loans.
The only two parties that are committed to implementing the terms of Greece's two sets of emergency loans, New Democracy and PASOK, won a combined 32.1 percent of the popular vote. Since November last year, Greece has been ruled by a shaky coalition of the two parties.
Far-left to far-right
The four other parties that won enough votes to gain seats in parliament range from the anti-bailout Radical Left Coalition to the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which is entering parliament for the first time since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974. The Radical Left Coalition came in second place, winning 52 seats, while Golden Dawn came in fifth with 21 seats.
The Radical Left Coalition, Golden Dawn and the other two parties that won seats, the Europhile Democratic Left and the nationalist Independent Greeks party, are all united in their opposition to the EU- and IMF-imposed austerity. Together they hold 151 seats in parliament, but major ideological differences are unlikely to produce a broad anti-bailout coalition.
acb/msh (AFP, AP)