Greece’s biggest anti-bailout party, Syriza, said for the second time in as many days that it won’t join a unity government, pushing the country closer to new elections that have sparked concerns about a euro-area exit.
“Syriza won’t betray the Greek people,” Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras said in statements televised on state-run NET TV after a meeting brokered by President Karolos Papoulias between the party and the leaders of the New Democracy and Pasok. “We are being asked to agree to the destruction of Greek society.”
Papoulias began a final bid to coax the three biggest parties into a coalition today after a week of talks which failed to deliver on mandates to form governments. He will meet later today the leaders of the four other parties to probe the likelihood of forming a national-unity government. If Papoulias’s efforts fail, new elections will need to be called.
Greece’s political impasse since inconclusive general elections May 6 has raised the possibility another vote will have to be held as early as next month, with polls showing that could boost anti-bailout Syriza to the top spot. The standoff has reignited concern the country will renege on pledges to cut spending as required by the terms of its two bailouts negotiated since May 2010, and, ultimately, leave the euro area.
Evangelos Venizelos, the socialist Pasok leader, returned the third, and final, mandate to Papoulias yesterday after Tsipras turned down an appeal by the smaller Democratic Left party to join a coalition.
Papoulias’s efforts will now focus on Democratic Left, to see if he can persuade them to join a government. Democratic Left has said that Syriza, the second-biggest party, must be part of its proposed unity government.
Tsipras said the three pro-bailout parties may proceed, a departure from his statements on May 11 when he said he hoped that Democratic Left would stick to pledges to not join such a government without Syriza.
“The three parties that have agreed on policy framework on a two-year government to implement the memorandum have 168 lawmakers in the new parliament,” he said. “They have the majority so let them proceed. Their demand for Syriza to join their planned agreement is illogical.”
Pasok, New Democracy and Democratic Left agreed last week on the broad outline of a government that would last until 2014 and be committed to keeping the country in the euro region and renegotiating bailout conditions from the International Monetary Fund and European Union to boost growth. Tsipras turned down the approach on May 11 as the first opinion polls since the elections showed he was gaining in support.
Syriza would come in first, though short of an outright majority, with 20.5 percent of the vote, if elections were held again, according to a Kapa Research poll for the newspaper To Vima, released yesterday. It got 16.8 percent in the May 6 election. Support for New Democracy would fall to 18.1 percent from 18.9 percent and Pasok would drop to 12.2 percent from 13.2 percent, according to the survey.
To contact the reporters on this story: Maria Petrakis in Athens at firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com; Natalie Weeks in Athens at firstname.lastname@example.org; Marcus Bensasson in Athens at email@example.com;