|Page (1) of 1 - 06/18/12||email article||print page|
Greek coalition talks pushed to second day
ATHENS, Greece (AP) ' Negotiations to form a government in crisis-struck Greece look set to enter a second day, after the head of the country's socialist party insisted on a broad coalition and said negotiations must wrap up by the end of Tuesday.
Monday's political wrangling came a day after the second national election in six weeks again left no party with enough votes to form a government on its own. The conservative New Democracy party won Sunday's ballot, but without enough votes to form a government on its own.
The socialist PASOK came third. Both have said they will stick to Greece's international bailout commitments, although they want to renegotiate some of the harsh austerity terms taken in return for the international rescue loans.
Sunday's results eased concern that Greece faced an imminent exit from Europe's joint currency. A Greek exit from the 17-nation eurozone would have potentially catastrophic consequences for other ailing European nations and hurt the United States and the entire global economy.
PASOK head Evangelos Venizelos, a former finance minister, finished in the election behind the radical left-wing anti-bailout Syriza party. But his 33 seats in the 300-member Parliament mean he could form a government with New Democracy, which gained 129 seats.
Syriza has refused to join the other two parties in a government, saying it will not cooperate with any group that insists on implementing the harsh austerity measures taken in return for Greece's two international bailout agreements.
Venizelos, however, insisted on a broad coalition.
"The most crucial thing for us right now is to achieve the greatest possible range of consensus, and this must happen by tomorrow night at the latest," he said after meeting with New Democracy head Antonis Samaras, who as election winner has the first go at trying to form a government.
Venizelos criticized Syriza chief Alexis Tsipras for his refusal to join in governing Greece, which has been wracked by a financial crisis that has left it dependent on international loans since May 2010.
"You can't have some people choosing the easy position of being in opposition and lying in wait for the government to fail ' or rather trying to create the conditions for the government, that is the country, to fail," Venizelos said.
On the streets of Athens, the mood was mixed, with many saying party leaders must get their act together.
"The election result isn't strong enough to put people's minds at ease," said sandwich shop owner Mary Moutafidis, 57. "They still have to agree to form a government."