Syriza in effort to form anti-austerity coalition

Syriza in effort to form anti-austerity coalition

Syriza in effort to form anti-austerity coalition

Greek conservative party leader Antonis Samaras (L) talks with head of Greece’s Left Coalition party Alexis Tsipras at the Parliament in Athens on May 7. AA photo

Greece’s radical leftist Syriza party was given the mandate yesterday to start building an anti-austerity Cabinet and prevent fresh elections, a day after the conservatives failed to form a coalition.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras met for talks Greek President Carolos Papoulias, who formally tasked him with forming a government. Arriving for the talks on foot and wearing a grey suit, white shirt and no tie, Tsipras said it was a “historic moment” for the left and a “great responsibility” for himself, state television NET reported. Tsipras, 37, has said he would use the three-day mandate to pull together a cabinet that will reject “barbaric” austerity measures imposed on debt-laden Greece as part of an EU-IMF bailout deal. “We will exhaust all possibilities to reach an understanding, primarily with the forces of the left,” Agence France-Presse quoted Tsipras as saying, whose far-left party came second in May 6’s elections.

He said the new Cabinet should reject all austerity measures imposed under an EU-IMF loan deal. “The public verdict has clearly nullified the loan agreement and (pledges) sent to Europe and the IMF,” Tsipras said in a televised address.

Syriza spokesman Panos Skourletis said the party would reject the EU-IMF deal and seek a better understanding with Greece’s EU peers on making the country’s huge debt sustainable. “We need to find a European solution to the debt after setting the (loan agreement) aside,” he told Flash Radio. A new government has to be formed by May 17 or new elections will be called.

Tsipras said that banks should be placed under “national control” and a “moratorium” applied on loan repayments. He also called for an international accounting committee to be formed to investigate how much of Greece’s debt is “odious.” “The crisis is not a Greek particularity,” he said.

Samaras rebuffed by left

“I did whatever I could to secure a result, but it was impossible,” Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis 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-place socialist party PASOK - formerly in a coalition with New Democracy - agreed to cooperate in negotiations, but only if the leftists also joined. Even assuming that Syriza and other anti-bailout parties could overcome their gaping differences, together they can only muster 151 votes, enough for only a razor-thin majority in Parliament. “Everything points to new elections in June,” said the pro-conservative daily Eleftheros Typos.

One of the only options in negotiations, noted pro-socialist Ethnos daily, is for Syriza and the smaller Democratic Left party to settle on a joint candidate for prime minister which PASOK could also support.