Greece to hold more coalition talks
President to meet all party leaders as political uncertainty sends markets plunging amid fears of possible eurozone exit
Critical talks aimed at forging a government of national unity in crisis-hit Greece will continue on Tuesday with a meeting of all party leaders, after the country’s political uncertainty saw markets plunge and fears rise over Athens’ ability to stay the course in the eurozone.
President Karolos Papoulias’s decision to prolong the negotiations came despite widespread signs that the talks were heading towards collapse. He met the leaders of the conservative New Democracy, socialist Pasok and Democratic Left parties in the eighth day of talks to resolve the deadlock. The party chiefs said the president had suggested creating a government of technocrats or “personalities”.
But one well-placed official said: “Everyone recognises there will not be an agreement. They are just going through the motions. We are going to go to a new round of elections and the sooner the better.”
Even before the political leaders arrived at the presidential palace, the prospect of the discussions producing a successful outcome had been quashed by the small Democratic Left party.
Athens’ political impasse, the result of inconclusive elections on 6 May, could not be resolved, a senior party member told the Guardian, because the Democratic Left was unable to join an administration that did not reflect “the majority of Greek society”.
“The last thing Greece needs is another round of elections but that is what is going to happen. We have decided that we cannot participate in a government that does not reflect the majority will of Greek society,” said Dimitris Hadzisokratis, who sits on the party’s executive board.
“I say this with a heavy heart. We would have preferred otherwise,” he said, adding that nearly 70% of Greeks had voted for political groups that were opposed to the policies the new government would be forced to adopt under pressure from the EU and IMF keeping Athens’ insolvent economy afloat.
Without the support of Democrat Left, a decidedly “pro-European” force which won 19 seats in parliament, the New Democracy party and centre-left Pasok party fall two seats short of being able to achieve a workable majority.
Pictured: Euro and drachma coins. There are fears Greece is heading towards an exit from the eurozone, which it struggled so hard to join. Photograph: Yiorgos Karahalis/Reuters