Greek leaders indicate government could be formed today
POLITICAL LEADERS in Greece last night gave the strongest indications yet that a new government would be formed today, but said they were still undecided as to the precise nature of the administration.
As the party with the parliamentary plurality, the conservative New Democracy will form the core of the government, which is likely to be supported by the socialist Pasok and moderate Democratic Left parties.
But the question over whether the new government would be a coalition in the real sense or a one-party administration enjoying the solid parliamentary backing from others will be decided today.
A government supported by the three parties would have a majority of 28 in the 300-seat parliament. “A government must be formed as soon as possible. As we stand now, it could be formed by midday tomorrow,” Pasok Party lead Evangelos Venizelos said.
But he indicated that his party’s involvement in the new government may only go as far as tolerating it with a vote of confidence, adding that his parliamentary party would decide early today whether Pasok would participate in the government.
Earlier, Democratic Left said that none of its MPs or supporters would serve in the new cabinet, which leader Fotis Kouvelis said he would support if a government programme could be agreed among the parties.
Democratic Left also said it would need to approve the “reliability” of cabinet ministers, in an indication that it would veto the appointments if unsatisfied.
If Pasok does decide not to engage its MPs in the new administration, it would be replicating the stance Mr Samaras took towards the government of technocrat Lucas Papademos. New Democracy had six ministers – all party officials but not MPs – in that government, which Mr Samaras refused to call a coalition.
Earlier, after a meeting with Mr Kouvelis, the Pasok leader said a more important task than the formation of a new government was the creation of a cross-party negotiating team to seek a better memorandum deal.
“The most important issue is not the government’s composition, but the national negotiating team that will strive to achieve the best possible revision of the loan agreement so that we can keep all the positives, and to counter the recession and unemployment and to bring positive growth and jobs,” Mr Venizelos said.
He called on Syriza, the leftist party that rejects the memorandum, to participate in the negotiation team. As was expected, Syriza, now the main opposition party, turned down the request.
Hopes that a government would be created were high yesterday at noon after Mr Venizelos and Mr Kouvelis indicated their strong optimism.
High-level officials from the three parties met last night to discuss the framework of a government programme, amid rumours that they would also discuss the precise composition of the cabinet.
Although these plans were later overtaken by events, local media had said that New Democracy expected nine ministries, including finance, foreign affairs, interior, citizen protection, justice and defence. It was also seeking the shipping, development and tourism portfolios. Under the scheme, Pasok would receive four ministries and Democratic Left three.