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Initial attempts to form Greek coalition government fall flat

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-05-07

Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras (pictured) said that his efforts to form a coalition government had failed on Monday amid concerns over the country’s political and economic future.

AFP - A first round of government talks in Greece ended in stalemate on Monday after the top-seeded conservative party failed to entice parties opposed to the country's EU-IMF bailout deal to join a coalition.

Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said his efforts to form a national salvation administration had failed, meaning that the leftist Syriza party would now be tasked with forming a government.

"I did whatever I could to secure a result but it was impossible," Samaras said in a televised address after a day of separate meetings with fellow leaders.

"I informed (head of state President Carolos Papoulias) and returned the mandate," the 60-year-old leader said.

Samaras was rebuffed by the second-place leftist Syriza party and the small Democratic Left group, while the nationalist Independent Greeks and the Communist party refused even to meet with him.

Third-place socialist Pasok, formerly in a coalition with New Democracy, agreed to cooperate but only if the leftists also joined.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras will be summoned by Papoulias at 1100 GMT on Tuesday and given three days to form a government.

Tsipras has said he would seek to form a left-wing coalition to reject the loan agreement's "barbaric" measures.

"We will exhaust all possibilities to reach an understanding, primarily with the forces of the Left" on forming a government, he said on Monday.

The anti-austerity parties can muster 151 votes between them but cooperation between them also seemed unlikely because of huge differences.

A look at far-right Greece's Golden Dawn Party
Syriza and the Communists have been at daggers drawn for years and both are unlikely to cooperate with the nationalists, let alone the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that also secured parliamentary entry on an anti-immigration ticket.

Greece's stock market plunged 6.67 percent on Monday.

The country, in its fifth year of recession with unemployment at 20 percent, has to find by June another 11.5 billion euros ($15 billion) in savings over the next two years.

New Democracy and Pasok -- the sole parties committed to applying the loan agreement -- saw their combined share of the vote collapsing to 32.03 percent, compared to 77.4 percent in the 2009 election, and their number of seats to 149.

Samaras had insisted on holding early elections and had demanded a strong public mandate to renegotiate Greece's EU-IMF loan agreement and place more emphasis on growth.

A repeat election now looks more likely than a coalition government.

General elections were originally scheduled to be held in October 2013.

Date created : 2012-05-07