Greek leftists in bid to form anti-austerity coalition

Greek leftists in bid to form anti-austerity coalition

Greece’s radical leftist Syriza party was set to start trying to build an anti-austerity cabinet on Tuesday to prevent fresh elections, a day after the conservatives failed to form a coalition government.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras will be summoned by Greek President Carolos Papoulias at 1100 GMT and given three days to form a government, with debt-laden Greece facing stern warnings from Germany and the EU to stick to its bailout deal.

“We will exhaust all possibilities to reach an understanding, primarily with the forces of the left,” Tsipras said.

The conservative New Democracy party’s failure to form a government on Monday underscored Greece’s precarious situation, with the country needing bailout funds to stay afloat but where painful austerity measures have given rise to widespread anger.

The euro and world stock markets sank on Monday after voters kicked out the Greek government in weekend elections and voted in a Socialist president of France in a backlash against austerity, but Asian markets rebounded on Tuesday.

The political developments in France and Greece had stoked anxiety about the fate of the EU’s tough fiscal pact adopted in March to try to end the eurozone’s crippling debt crisis.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said on Monday his efforts to form a “national salvation” administration had failed, meaning that Syriza, as the runner-up in Sunday’s election, would now be tasked with forming a government.

“I did whatever I could to secure a result but it was impossible,” the 60-year-old Samaras said in a televised address after a day of separate meetings with fellow leaders.

Samaras was rebuffed by Syriza and the small Democratic Left group, while the nationalist Independent Greeks and the Communist party refused to even meet with him.
Third-placed socialist party Pasok, which was formerly in a coalition with New Democracy, agreed to cooperate but only if the leftists also joined.

A new government has to be formed by May 17 or new elections will be called.

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