Greek pro-bailout parties to form coalition gov’t, easing EU fears

Greek pro-bailout parties to form coalition gov’t, easing EU fears

Greek pro-bailout parties to form coalition gov’t, easing EU fears

Leader of conservative New Democracy party Antonis Samaras is cheered by supporters after the election victory. REUTERS photo

The head of the conservative New Democracy party kicked off the formation of a coalition yesterday after an election win which eased fears of a Greek eurozone exit and caused widespread relief in markets.

“The country does not have a minute to lose,” said Antonis Samaras after New Democracy won 129 of the 300 parliamentary seats in June 17’s vote, opening the path for a coalition with the third-place socialist party PASOK, which took 33 seats.

Samaras was scheduled to receive the presidential mandate to start power-sharing talks later yesterday, after President Karolos Papoulias is handed the final election results. With nearly all votes counted, New Democracy has 29.66 percent, followed by the Syriza radical left coalition at 26.89 percent. The extreme far-right Golden Dawn party came fifth with 6.92 percent and 18 seats.

Leaders of the European Union appeared relieved that a pro-austerity government could now be formed. The EU “is convinced that continued fiscal and structural reforms are Greece’s best guarantee to overcome the current economic and social challenges,” it said in a statement. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Paul Juncker, who heads the eurogroup, said representatives of the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank would visit Athens soon to discuss the way forward.Socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos proposed a four-party coalition between New Democracy, Syriza, PASOK and Democratic Left.

Syriza to remain in opposition

PASOK officials said Venizelos would insist on Syriza joining any future coalition, despite its anti-bailout stance, although the move could simply be a negotiating tactic to convince the public that Syriza was unwilling to play a constructive role in pulling Greece out of its crisis. Alexis Tsipras has ruled out such a possibility. Tsipras phoned Samaras to congratulate him on his victory and vowed that his party would remain outside the government.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.