President, Party Leaders Fail To Bridge Gap In Coalition Talks

Greece’s political party leaders failed to bridge differences in a last-ditch effort to form a coalition government Sunday, and new elections appeared inevitable even as talks to end the country’s political impasse continued, renewing fears of an impending Greek exit from the euro zone.

President Karolos Papoulias summoned the three party bosses from the conservative New Democracy, Socialist Pasok and radical-leftist Syriza parties, to a special council after each had failed to form a government following six days of efforts.

The meeting broke off after less than two hours of talks with no apparent agreement as Syriza insisted that it wouldn’t join or support New Democracy and Pasok in a government that would seek to implement the austerity policies agreed with international creditors under Greece’s latest bailout, which his party opposes.

“They’re asking for accomplices to austerity. We can’t take part in this crime,” Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said after the talks.

But conservative leader Antonis Samaras told reporters coalition talks would continue while Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos said there was “limited optimism” a deal might be reached as talks would continue with other parties.

Venizelos, Greece’s former finance minister, renewed his call for a cross-party coalition to rule the country–and lashed out at Greece’s radical leftists for blocking one–but said his party was ready to head for fresh elections if needed.

“Despite an impasse in the meeting between the three parties and the President, I still have limited but real optimism that a coalition government can be formed,” he said in a speech to Socialist party candidates immediately after the high-level talks.

The president is expected to meet later Sunday with the heads of four other smaller parties–ranging from Communists to the ultranationalist Golden Dawn party–who also won seats in Greece’s legislature.
(source: Dow Jones)


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