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New Elections for Greece as Talks Fail

  • Selah Hennessy

Greek politicians gather at the Presidential Palace in Athens on May 15, 2012 for a third day of coalition talks that ended in failure, prompting new elections.

Greek politicians gather at the Presidential Palace in Athens on May 15, 2012 for a third day of coalition talks that ended in failure, prompting new elections.

Greece will hold a new election after coalition talks fell apart Tuesday. The fresh round of voting follows a May 6 ballot that failed to elect a clear winner.

Political leaders have been scrambling for days to form various coalition governments, but none have been fruitful.

On Tuesday, Greek politicians conceded that a new vote is the only answer. The second election is expected to take place on June 17.

In the May election, a majority of voters supported parties that oppose tough austerity measures in Greece. The measures are key to a bailout deal, funded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, aimed at preventing Greece from defaulting on its debts.

According to polls taken during the past week, the radical left party Syriza, which took second place in the May vote, is now in first place.

The party has taken a strong position against Greek austerity measures and wants to renegotiate the bailout package.

Vassilis Monastiriotis, from the London School of Economics, said the party is unlikely to win an absolute majority in parliament, but added it might get enough votes to steer Greek policy.

"They may be able to form a coalition government being the strongest party in parliament so that the coalition government will be on their terms rather than them being the smallest party and having lower influence," he said.

The party’s aim, renegotiating the terms of Greece’s bailout, is unlikely to make much headway, Monastiriotis said, because the European Union is unlikely to shift the terms of the agreement.

"If they insist on what they have promised, it is quite possible that there is going to be a deadlock on the European level and this potentially could lead to the exit of the country from the eurozone," he said.

Syriza, along with the majority of Greeks, says it wants to remain within the eurozone. European leaders have also emphasized their commitment to keeping Greece within the union. But many analysts say the financially strapped country could well be on its way out in the coming years.

Greece is in its fifth year of recession. According to figures published Tuesday, the Greek economy slumped more than 6 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier.

The president’s office said Tuesday he will hold talks Wednesday to set up a caretaker administration.
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