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Last-ditch efforts in Greece to broker coalition

Mediation efforts by Greek President Karolos Papoulias have so far failed to get the country's parties to agree to form a government. Yet President Papoulias hasn't given up hope.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias is due to continue efforts aimed at breaking the political deadlock this Monday. The two traditional main parties, conservative Nea Dimokratia and socialist PASOK, have said they're ready to form a coalition. With only 149 out of a total of 300 seats, however, they will need a third party to join forces with them.

One possible partner could be the pro-European Democratic Left headed by former communist Fotis Kouvelis. Yet Kouvelis had made his participation dependant on radical left alliance Syriza joining as well on Monday - an option that has already been rejected.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras seems to be banking on new elections, hoping that his party would then emerge as the strongest force. Polls suggest his tactic might in fact work. And Tsipras certainly isn't wasting opportunities to slam the traditional parties' austerity measures dictated by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

"It's clear that what they expect from our party isn't any kind of agreement or tolerance but complicity in a crime," he told the nation in a TV broadcast. "In the name of democracy, our people's sovereignty and patriotic responsibility, I will have no part of it. I urge all Greeks to denounce yesterday's policies once and for all."

Irresponsible position?

While the Greek president on Sunday struggled to get political leaders to compromise and form a coalition government, Tsipras spoke to supporters in the city of Piraeus south of Athens, pledging a strong left that would cooperate only with the Greek people. He declined to meet with the president and other party leaders again on Monday afternoon.

Kammenos meets Greece's President Karolos Papoulias

The Independent Greeks - a possible coalition partner

Conservative leader Antonis Samaras hinted at radical renegotiations of the Greek bailout package, hoping the move might persuade the left alliance to back a coalition government. It's a position Samaras staunchly upheld until November 2011, when he gave in to western pressure and pledged his support to the bailout package. Samaras fell far short of a majority in the polls; now, he may not even be named premier of a coalition government - something he blamed on the radical left.

"The party ignores voter demand and contradicts the creation of a viable government," he said. "It wouldn't even tolerate a government that pushes ahead with renegotiating the bailout package. I can't understand what they're up to."

Opponents of the bailout

Perhaps the Independent Greeks will tip the scales. The new right-wing party, set up by New Democracy dissident Panos Kammenos, came in as the fourth-strongest party in last week's general elections.

The party has declared its willingness to support a power-sharing deal with New Democracy and PASOK - but only if the government agrees to abandon the terms of Greece's international bailout.

Kammenos also demanded the immediate creation of an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) along Greek coasts that would allow the start of oil exploration and potential drilling.

Greek political scientist Thanassis Diamantopoulos accuses some Greek political leaders of blanking out reality. Their biggest challenge is coming to grips with reality, he criticized. "Kammenos focuses on projects like the EEZ that would take years to bear fruit - if at all. What the country needs is a solution in the next 14 days," Diamantopoulos said

Leftist politician Alekos Alavanos, a former Syriza party leader who handed the reins to Tsipras in 2008, warned on Sunday opponents of the austerity measures. Withdrawing from the bailout would result in Greece's exit from the eurozone, he said, admonishing the radical left rallied behind Tsipras to have the courage to name that reality.

Author: Jannis Papadimitriou / db
Editor: Gabriel Borrud

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