Last-gasp bid to avert poll in Greece

Last-gasp bid to avert poll in Greece

Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos began a last-gasp attempt to form a government on Thursday but Greece seemed to be moving inexorably towards new elections after voters rejected an international bailout, plunging the country into crisis.

Venizelos is the third and last political leader to attempt to form a government after Sunday’s election, which left pro- and anti-bailout forces balanced almost equally.

Venizelos acknowledged he only had a slim chance in remarks to his parliamentary group, reduced to about a quarter of its former strength by elections in which voters punished his party and conservative New Democracy for imposing harsh austerity in exchange for a 130-billion-euro ($168-billion) EU/IMF bailout.

He said he would make every effort to form a coalition, or if not at least help the president try to find a unity government. That would be the last stage before new elections are called in three or four weeks.

Venizelos received a three-day mandate after radical Leftist Coalition leader Alexis Tsipras formally gave up his attempt, telling President Karolos Papoulias: “We did everything possible to form a government compatible with the popular vote, but that was not possible.”

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