ATHENS — Just three days after elections in Greece left a fractured political landscape, and raised further doubts about its commitment to a foreign bailout and its future in the euro zone, the country looked set on Wednesday for a second round of polls as party leaders appeared unable to form a government.
New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, in a statement on Wednesday evening after meeting Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, said “I explained to Mr. Tsipras that the terms he raised do not lead to the renegotiating of the policy of the memorandum, but to its unilateral denouncement and the country’s immediate default.”
“I reiterated to him that I am prepared to support a salvation government with the participation of all, with the aim of the country’s stay in the euro and the change of the memorandum’s policy. I told him that I am prepared even to provide tolerance to a minority government, without our participation, with the undeviating term of our stay in the euro,” Samaras added.
“I pointed out to him that with the letter I sent to our creditors I raised for the first time officiallly what nobody had dared to do until then: The need for changes, amendments, in the economic policy so that there can be recovery and unemployment to stop.
“What many were telling us until recently that ‘it cannot be done’… And our partners, with the acceptance of that letter of mine, accepted it. It is, therefore, an ‘achievement in hand’ for Greece, not something that we should take back,” Samaras went on to say, adding that “the Greek people voted for two things: the stay in the euro and a change in policy. At this moment, we succeeded on these two demands to also have the support of many other European countries as well. Greece must insist there, therefore.”
“Mr. Tsipras is not asking from me to withdraw my signature. He is asking from me to accept Greece’s exit from the euro and the country’s default. And I am not going to do this,” Samaras concluded.
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras met on Wednesday with PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos. SYRIZA came in second and PASOK third in the election, as New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras failed to form a government and handed back the mandate on Monday.
Speaking immediately after the meeting, Venizelos tabled two alternative proposals, as he said, for the formation of a unity government.
The first is the creation of a national unity government with participation of “pro-European” forces, and the second concerns a government with the participation of SYRIZA, the Democratic Left and the Independent Greeks, which he said PASOK can support provided that such a government guarantees the country’s membership in the eurozone and the improvement of the country’s position vis-a-vis creditors via negotiations.
Finally, the PASOK leader rejected the possibility of an all-party government, saying that in the present phase it appears “we cannot reach a solution”.
Venizelos said he will receive the exploratory mandate from the President of the Republic on Thursday and will continue such efforts.
Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos, in a statement after meeting Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday, made estimated that there is no necessary majority for a discussion to take place on the creation of an “antimemorandum front.”
Kammenos said he had an “extensive” discussion on economic issues and individual matters as well with Tsipras.
Kammenos pointed out that the seats of the Independent Greeks, SYRIZA and the Democratic Left are not enough for an “antimemorandum” government to be formed, “given the refusal of KKE (the Communist Party of Greece).”
He also said that there exist ascertained “disagreements” with SYRIZA on issues such as, among other things, on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) and “illegal immigration.”
PASOK leader meets with top party cadres
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday held a meeting with party cadres to strategic issues dealing with the party’s “next day”.
According to party sources, Venizelos will receive the exploratory mandate from the President of the Republic and will proceed with specific moves.
The meeting was attended by Apostolos Kaklamanis, Andreas Loverdos, Paris Koukoulopoulos and Costas Skandalidis.
Former PASOK minister and MP Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday called for a party congress to discuss the issues of its leadership and, in fact, the party’s very existence.
Speaking to an Athens private radio station, he noted that “whoever said PASOK should give a vote of tolerance (Radical Left Coalition – SYRIZA) is ridiculous”.
Referring to SYRIZA Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, he said “it is totally ludicrous and unconstitutional to act like a prime minister. He wants to exploit the exploratory mandate to form a government in a ludicrous way. He shouldn’t have accepted it in the first place.”