ATHENS - The Greek president has given the party which won Sunday’s election three days to form a new government. World leaders have welcomed the victory of the pro-bailout New Democracy party and urged Athens to act swiftly in forming a new government which will 'take ownership' of the tough austerity measures attached to the nation's huge bailout deal.
Stock markets around the world were mixed on Monday reflecting uncertainty after Sunday’s election in which pro-bailout parties won enough seats to form a coalition government but it remains unclear how long that will take.
The left wing coalition, Syriza, saw its share of the vote increase by almost five times compared to where it was three years ago. But it fell short of overtaking -- and refuses to work with -- the centre right new Democracy party, which will now have the mandate to try to form a government.
New Democracy’s leader, Antonis Samaras, says the way forward will be difficult.
He says he "wants all Greeks to know that he’s committed to work with dedication and consistency in order to embark on a difficult path.” Once they get to the top of the hill, he adds, "a solution will emerge, a hopeful solution."
He also says he will try to secure more time for Greece to cut its borrowing to levels approved of by the EU and the IMF. However, some Greeks are skeptical things will get better. Evi Malliarou lost her job as an events organizer last fall and has been unemployed since. She has voted for anti-austerity parties in the past, yet this time she says she could not be bothered to vote because nothing will change.
“It’s going to be the same, I mean, the results are a little bit different but basically we have exactly the same thing as before. It makes me feel frustrated, because you can’t just go on and on and on having elections, these people have to form a government, they have to make sure the state functions for the benefit of all people,” Malliarou said.
Many areas of the state have stopped delivering services to Greeks in the manner to which they were accustomed. Education is one of those areas. Timoleon Alevizakis is a high school teacher in Athens. He says his pupils are suffering.
“What I am getting is a lot of stress, frustration, there have been incidents of students fainting, either from too much stress or in some cases we are speculating, malnutrition...there have been definite cases of children, students fainting in working class areas of western Athens for example. We had cases of panic attacks, on the part of students, the whole situation is definitely affecting the children,” Alevizakis said.
New Democracy may have won more seats than any other party, but it needs to secure the support of two other left wing parties to form a government. Ideologically, the three parties are not close. World leaders may have to wait days, not hours, for a new administration to take shape.