Greek govt talks: Tsipras to meet mainstream party heads




The leader of a radical left-wing party tasked with trying to form a coalition government in Greece is to meet mainstream party heads, a day after he demanded they withdraw their signatures from the international bailout deal.

Alexis Tsipras’ meetings will include the leaders of conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK – the two parties that suffered massive losses in Sunday’s elections.

Voters furious at the handling of Greece’s financial crisis and the severe austerity measures imposed in return for rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund and European Union abandoned the two parties, leaving no group with enough votes to form a government.

The people backed a hotch-potch of parties from the Stalinist left to the neo-Nazi right, but produced no clear winner in parliament. If no coalition can be agreed, new elections must be called.

Mr Tsipras said yesterday: “The pro-bailout parties no longer have a majority in parliament to vote in destructive measures for the Greek people. The popular mandate clearly renders the bailout agreement invalid.”

His anti-austerity Radical Left Coalition party came second in the voting, winning 52 of parliament’s 300 seats with 16.8% of the vote. He has the presidential mandate to end the political impasse by forming a governing coalition.

Antonis Samaras, head of the winning conservative party that has 108 seats, gave up on the same task after a few hours on Monday when Mr Tsipras spurned his advances.

Mr Tsipras said his government-building drive would focus on ending “the loan agreements of subservience” with Greece’s international bailout creditors.

Greece has depended on rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010, after decades of profligate state spending and poor financial management priced it out of money-lending markets.

To secure the bailouts, Athens slashed pensions, salaries, and health care, while repeatedly raising taxes. But more than two years of austerity have left the economy deep in recession and unemployment at a record high 21%.

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