Coalition talks near collapse in Greece

President Karolos Papoulias was expected to meet with the leaders of several smaller parties

Written by New York Times | Athens | Published:May 14, 2012 12:55 am

RACHEL DONADIO & NIKI KITSANTONIS

Talks to form a new Greek government appeared near collapse on Sunday after the leader of a left-wing party that favours rejecting Greece’s loan agreement with foreign creditors again refused to join a unity coalition,making new elections almost a given.

President Karolos Papoulias was expected to meet with the leaders of several smaller parties on Sunday evening to try to persuade them to join a two-year unity government with the Socialists and the centre-right New Democracy Party in the hope of enforcing the loan agreement — but with a possible renegotiation of some of its terms.

If Papoulias fails to get leaders to form a coalition,he will call a new election in a month and appoint an interim government to lead Greece until then. The most likely date mentioned for the election is June 17.

Concerned about the political instability,European leaders have warned that if Greece does not keep its promises,Europe will stop financing it,causing the country to default and exit the euro zone. But Alexis Tsipras,the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left,or Syriza,has gained momentum precisely by defying Europe’s threat.

On Sunday,he insisted that his party would not join a unity coalition with the Socialists and New Democracy,who signed Greece’s debt deal. Syriza will “not be complicit in their crimes,” he said.

“Those that governed the past two years have not only failed to accept the message from the elections. They continue their policy of blackmail,” he said.

Tsipras called on the conservatives and socialists to go ahead and form a coalition with Democratic Left,a moderate leftist party that splintered from Syriza in 2010.

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