Greek Parties In Last-Gasp Bid To Avert Elections
Greek political parties were engaged in a last-gasp attempt to form a government and avoid new elections on Thursday after voters rejected an international bailout and plunged the debt-ridden country into crisis, Reuters reported. Socialist PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos is the third and last political leader to try to form a government after Sunday's election, which left pro- and anti-bailout forces balanced almost equally. Last hopes to form a government were pinned on Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis, a moderate leftist who emerged from a meeting with Venizelos proposing an all-party government that would keep Greece in the euro while detaching it from the bailout deal. Sources said his party was divided on joining a coalition without the SYRIZA leftists, who have flatly rejected such proposals and whose popularity soared after the election. "There is a very slim chance for a coalition if Kouvelis agrees," one socialist party official said on condition of anonymity. "But his party is split right down the middle." Officials said any deal was unlikely before the president calls all political leaders to make one final effort, the last stage before new elections are called in three or four weeks. Venizelos acknowledged he only had a slim chance in remarks to his parliamentary group, reduced to about a quarter of its former strength by elections in which voters punished his party and conservative New Democracy for imposing harsh austerity in exchange for a 130-billion-euro ($168-billion) EU/IMF bailout. He was given three days to try and form a government after radical Leftist Coalition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras formally gave up his attempt, telling President Karolos Papoulias it was not possible. Read more.