Tue, Jun 19, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Greek conservatives win, countdown starts

SAFE AT LAST?All eyes were on the nation’s electoral results as the EU, the US and the IMF stressed that the new Greek government had to implement immediate reforms


People read headlines on newspaper front pages hanging at a kiosk in Athens yesterday, a day after the Greek general elections.

Photo: EPA

Greece raced to form a coalition with broad support by yesterday’s end of after an election victory by pro-bailout parties which eased fears of a Greek eurozone exit and brought relief to world markets.

“There is a categorical imperative to form the government today,” Greek President Carolos Papoulias said before giving a formal mandate for negotiations to conservative leader Antonis Samaras, whose New Democracy party won the election. “The country cannot remain ungoverned for even an hour.”

The 61-year-old Samaras said: “A national agreement is an imperative called for by everyone. We need to resolve the question immediately.”

He also said there should be amendments to the conditions of an EU-IMF bailout deal “so the Greek people can escape from today’s torturous reality.”

New Democracy won 129 of the 300 parliamentary seats in Sunday’s vote, opening the path for a coalition with the third-placed socialist PASOK party, which won 33 seats, but has called for other leftist parties to be included.

Europe and the US urged Greece to act quickly to form a new government and proceed with urgent reforms to meet the terms of bailout loans that have kept the Greek economy on life support for the past two years.

The anti-austerity leftist SYRIZA party and leader Alexis Tsipras came second with 71 seats. It has ruled out joining a coalition, saying the harsh conditions for the bailout deal should be scrapped altogether.

“There is no alternative to a coalition between the right and the socialists since the key issue at stake was the formation of a pro-euro government,” said Thomas Gerakis, head of the Marc Polling Institute.

Political analyst Yiannis Loulis said: “The government will be fragile, with a fragile popular base, and I do not think it is going to last very long.”

“It was mainly a vote of fear against the exit from the euro, not a real support of the reforms,” he added.

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