Greece crisis: Far left Syriza pulls out of talksPosted: May 14, 2012
Originally posted at BBC
Alexis Tsipras: “As long as they insist on the bailout, to a policy that the people have rejected, they cannot ensure social stability”
The leader of far-left party Syriza will not attend coalition talks on Monday, reports say, plunging Greece into further political disarray.
The move by Alexis Tsipras takes the country a step closer to elections – which polls now suggest the anti-bailout party could win.
President Karolos Papoulias had invited four parties, including Syriza, to further talks.
But Mr Tsipras on Sunday ruled out any deal with pro-bailout parties.
Both the centre-right New Democracy and the socialist Pasok have so far been unable to form a new coalition.
They both agreed to swingeing cuts in return for the last EU/IMF bailout, but suffered at last week’s polls.
Syriza, which came second, insists any new government must cancel austerity measures agreed in return for EU-IMF loans worth 130bn euros ($170bn; £105bn).
“Alexis Tsipras will not attend the meeting tomorrow,” Reuters news agency quoted Syriza official Nikos Pappas as saying.
That leaves New Democracy and Pasok due to attend the talks at the presidential mansion along with Democratic Left, a more moderate leftist party.
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Greece in trouble
17 May: State opening of parliament; deadline for formation of new government
6 May: Election held; voters desert main parties and back anti-austerity groups; no party in overall control so coalition needed
12 Mar 2012: Second bailout signed off involving 130bn-euro loan and massive debt write-off
10 Nov 2011: Technocrat PM Lucas Papademos installed after social unrest and economic chaos bring down Pasok government
2 May 2010: EU/IMF agree 110bn-euro bailout in return for austerity measures after Greek debt downgraded to junk status
Q&A: Greek debt crisis
In theory, Democratic Left – which came seventh in the election, winning 19 seats – could provide those two parties with the support needed to form a coalition, but its leader, Fotis Kouvelis, has repeatedly said he would not do so without Syriza.
It became clear that Mr Papoulias’s consultations with party leaders on Sunday were likely to be fruitless when Mr Tsipras refused to join a proposed national unity coalition with New Democracy and Pasok, saying: “They’re not seeking an accord with Syriza… they’re asking us to be their partners in crime and we will not be their accomplices.”
A row erupted after Mr Tsipras accused Democratic Left of agreeing to form a coalition with New Democracy and Pasok – an accusation that Democratic Left rejected as a “slander and a lie” on its website.
Emerging after the talks, Mr Kouvelis said the president had told him there was “no possibility of the formation of a unity government, and he referred to the refusal by Syriza to participate in such an government, or to even show tolerance towards one”.
The leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, said Syriza had refused to join or back a coalition government, even if it pledged to “renegotiate” the loan agreement.
The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens says most Greeks appear to be in favour of remaining in the euro, but there are questions as to what sacrifices they are willing to make to achieve that goal.
European leaders say rejecting the terms of the bailout is incompatible with remaining in the euro – something polls suggest a large majority of Greeks want to do.
If, as expected, the talks fail to produce a governing coalition, a new election will be scheduled for next month.
The uncertainty has alarmed Greece’s international creditors, who insist the country must keep to the terms of the bailout deal if it is to continue receiving funds and avoid bankruptcy.
Correspondents say the anti-bailout vote that was shared among several small parties in the first election now seems to be consolidating around Syriza.
Several opinion polls have put Syriza in first place in any future poll. With a bonus of 50 extra parliamentary seats that winning would bring, an anti-bailout coalition led by Syriza is looking more likely.