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Last-ditch Greek talks fail to form unity government

Meetings between the country’s president and its three main party leaders fail to end the political stalemate in Greece.

President Karolos Papoulias, right, meets with Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras earlier this week. Papoulias will meet Tsipras again today, as well as the leaders of the two pro-bailout parties, to try and form a unity government.
President Karolos Papoulias, right, meets with Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras earlier this week. Papoulias will meet Tsipras again today, as well as the leaders of the two pro-bailout parties, to try and form a unity government.
Image: Kostas Tsironis/AP

Updated, 14:15

TALKS BETWEEN the President of Greece and the leaders of the country’s three largest political parties, to try and end the week-long political vacuum after last week’s elections, have ended without progress.

The leaders of the centre-right New Democracy, the left-wing Syrika coalition of radical left, and the centre-left PASOK socialist party all met with Karolos Papoulias in an effort to try and resolve the week-long deadlock following last Sunday’s election.

Seven parties won parliamentary seats in last Sunday’s election to replace the technocrat government of former ECB banker Lucas Papademos, which was put in place in order to ensure the country was given its much-needed second bailout earlier this year.

New Democracy and PASOK – the only two of the seven parties who firmly support the EU-IMF programmes – won 149 seats out of 300, just short of an overall majority, meaning the support of at least one anti-bailout party would be needed to govern.

Having asked the leaders of all three parties to attempt to form governments earlier this week, Papoulias today convened a meeting between all three, trying to see if there is any common ground between them to form a national unity government, but no progress was found.

Athens News quoted Evangelos Venizelos of PASOK as saying that while “no one presented a more concrete set of proposals and solutions”, there had been no progress.

He also reported that Syrika leader Alexis Tsipras had, in his own opinion, refused to recognise the result of the election by deciding he would not share power with either of the two other main parties.

Tsipras claimed after the talks that PASOK and New Democracy had reached a tentative deal with another left-wing party, Democratic Left, to share power for two years, but that party dismissed the claims.

Papoulias is now expected to seek one-on-one meetings with the leaders of the four smaller parties – the Independent Greeks, the Communist Party, the far-right Golden Dawn, and Democratic Left – see if any of them could soften their stances.

Assuming there is no possibility of doing so, it is expected that Papoulias will dissolve the parliament again, and seek a second election next month hoping that voters return a different configuration of parties which may be able to govern.

Opinion polls taken earlier this week indicate that if a repeat poll was held, Syriza would grow from the second-largest party to the biggest.

Explainer: New elections? Euro exit? Just what is going on in Greece?

Read: Bundesbank chief: Greece risks losing financial aid if it breaches loan agreements

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