Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ed Husain, Author of 'The Islamist'

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put to the test

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put to the test (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Pakistan: Imran Khan, from the cricket field to politics

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'iVIOLATED'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

France's Iliad considers fresh offer for T-Mobile

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Back to school!

Read more

  • NATO plans new 'spearhead' force to counter Russia

    Read more

  • French clubs left behind as others spend big

    Read more

  • Arab media strike back at IS Islamists – with cartoons

    Read more

  • US military targets Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group

    Read more

  • Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

    Read more

  • Boko Haram Islamists seize northeast Nigerian town

    Read more

  • Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao leaves Ligue 1 for Man Utd

    Read more

  • UN backs Iraqi request for inquiry into IS militant crimes

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • Obama calls for higher wages amid 'revving' US economy

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine’s children return to school as fighting rages on

    Read more

  • Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM calls for regional peacekeeping force after ‘coup’

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • French police arrest hungry hedgehog hunters

    Read more

Europe

Greeks scramble to name new prime minister

Video by Nathalie SAVARICAS

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-09

Rival political parties in Greece promised to agree on a new prime minister Wednesday after two days of deadlock, despite pressure to reach a deal from eurozone countries which are also grappling with the emerging crisis in Italy.

REUTERS - Greek political leaders were scrambling on Wednesday to agree on new prime minister to lead the country back from the brink of bankruptcy, after a plan to name a former European Central Bank official appeared to fall apart.

A government spokesman said a new crisis coalition would be named as early as Wednesday afternoon, but there was little indication of a deal on who would lead the administration.

In the past two days government sources have made a number of optimistic predictions about forming the government, which must secure a 130-billion-euro ($180-billion) bailout from the euro zone, only for no deal to materialise.

“Today, the (outgoing) prime minister will meet the president of the republic,” deputy government spokesman Angelos Tolkas said on NET radio. “Everything will happen in such a way that after 12 (1000 GMT) we will have the announcement of the new government.”

The socialist and conservative parties had wanted former ECB vice-president Lucas Papademos to lead the government of national unity, aiming to re-establish an international credibility that the politicians lost long ago.

But sources in both parties said this was now in doubt and the two sides were looking at other options.

“The Papademos candidacy has hit problems that have to do with both parties,” one of the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Unacceptable conditions

Some Greek media reported that Papademos had set conditions that the parties would not accept, and others that there were objections from Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, because Papademos wanted to change the government’s economic team.

Greek media have mentioned parliamentary speaker Filippos Petsalnikos and socialist lawmaker Apostolos Kaklamanis as alternative premiers, but both have denied the reports that they had been picked.

The President of the European Court of Justice Vassilios Skouris was the latest name being discussed, according to a source in the ruling socialist party.

The stakes could not be higher. Greece must have a new coalition to secure the bailout, negotiate the release of emergency funds from the EU and IMF to avoid bankruptcy when big debt repayments come due next month, and safeguard its place in the euro zone.

On the other hand, the European Union needs to put out the fire in Greece to prove to international financial markets that it can tackle another blaze in Italy, a far bigger economy also in the middle of economic and political crisis.

The pro-government daily Ethnos summed up the exasperation felt by Greeks with its headline: “Find a solution! A thriller with the selection of a prime minister.”

To Vima news website evoked a national fear that Greece might lose its euro zone membership, and be cast adrift to survive alone with its old currency.

“Despite its huge defeat, our political system won’t get serious at the time when the country is threatened with complete collapse, wavering between the euro and the drachma,” it said.

Double dispute

Could Greece quit the eurozone?

Adding to the confusion, conservative leader Antonis Samaras became embroiled in a dispute within his New Democracy party and a related row with the European Union.

Party political sources said some New Democracy lawmakers were accusing Samaras of giving away too much, especially when he agreed to accept austerity measures in the bailout package.

Samaras had long argued that the spending cuts, tax rises and job losses imposed by the outgoing socialist government under orders from the EU and IMF had deepened Greece’s crippling recession, now in its fourth year.

A New Democracy party source refused to accept the party was the main problem, but acknowledged internal divisions since Samaras staged his U-turn on the package last week, helping to open the way for Sunday’s agreement in principle.

“Parts of New Democracy are causing trouble. Many party officials around Samaras don’t like the way things are going,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Under pressure from party dissidents, Samaras attacked the EU for demanding written undertakings from Greece that it would stand by its promises to implement the bailout package which euro zone leaders agreed last month.

European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn made the demand, exasperated by Greece’s record of making promises on tackling its huge debt and budget deficit and then falling short of fulfilling them.

Rehn singled out a decision by Prime Minister George Papandreou last week to call a referendum on the bailout, a vote which might have seen Greeks reject the package because of the austerity measures tied to it. Papandreou backed down, but was forced into agreeing to make way for the unity coalition.

Broken confidence

Speaking in Brussels, Rehn said Greece had breached confidence with the EU by calling the referendum. Now Brussels needed undertakings to release even the next 8-billion-euro instalment of funding for Greece under its original bailout package, pulled together last year.

“This confidence needs to be mended," said Rehn. "Finance ministers of the euro area expect that there is ... a written commitment, a written confirmation of the commitment of a broad-based government of national unity.”

A government source said the EU wanted Samaras to sign, along with the new prime minister, finance minister, central bank governor and outgoing Prime Minister Papandreou.

The New Democracy response was blunt. Samaras hinted in a statement he might give no written assurances because his spoken word was enough. "It's a matter of national dignity ... I don't allow anybody to doubt my statements," he said.


 

Date created : 2011-11-09

  • EU - FINANCIAL CRISIS

    Eurozone to accelerate work on strengthening bailout fund

    Read more

  • GREECE

    Greek premier set to resign as part of coalition deal

    Read more

  • GREECE

    Greece officially scraps plans for bailout referendum

    Read more

COMMENT(S)