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Greek Political Leaders Fail to Form Government

  • VOA News

Socialist PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos (R) and Greece's Left Coalition party head Alexis Tsipras shake hands during their meeting at the parliament in Athens, May 11, 2012.

Socialist PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos (R) and Greece's Left Coalition party head Alexis Tsipras shake hands during their meeting at the parliament in Athens, May 11, 2012.

Greek political leaders have failed to form a coalition that would resolve a political impasse and avert the need for new elections.

Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos made the announcement Friday after the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, refused to join the Socialists and conservatives due to a disagreement on the country's economic austerity program.

The Socialist and conservative New Democracy parties have proposed a gradual phasing out of the tough measures imposed by the European Union and IMF in exchange for a bailout loan. The leftists want them canceled immediately. If there is no lasting agreement by May 17, new elections will be called.

"Arrogance and petty party politics with a view toward elections are not suitable at this critical moment. Even if elections are repeated, what is going to change from this attitude? Nothing. The moment of truth is here for everyone. I will inform the president tomorrow afternoon. I hope everybody shows maturity and responsibility in consultations with the president,'' said Venizelos.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said the Greek people voted against the austerity measures imposed by the European Union and IMF, and that their will cannot be ignored.

"It is not the Left Coalition that has refused this proposal, but the Greek people who did so with their vote on Sunday.''

Greek voters punished both the Socialists [PASOK] and New Democracy for having pushed through the tough economic austerity measures in return for huge international loans to avert bankruptcy.

Venizelos is the third Greek leader who tried and failed to form a government after Sunday's inconclusive election.

Earlier Friday, Venizelos met with the leader of the Conservative Party, Antonis Samaras, for talks on a coalition government. Another possible ally, the small Democratic Left party, said it would not join a government made up only of Socialists and the conservative New Democracy party that did not include Syriza.

President Karolos Papoulias is expected to call on parties to form an emergency coalition to govern until new elections are held.

New Democracy won the most parliamentary seats in Sunday's election, followed by the Radical Left and the Socialists. But no party won enough seats to be able to put together a new government on its own.

Syriza leader Tsipras had called on the two parties to renounce their support for the deep spending cuts, but could not get enough support in parliament to hammer out a coalition.

European Union leaders are pressuring Greece to carry through with the austerity plans. Germany warned Friday that Greece will get no more money without reforms and that the eurozone can survive if the cash-strapped country leaves Europe's 17-member currency union.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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