Samaras seeks to form coalition


Antonis Samaras, leader of Greece's New Democracy party, said he will attempt to form a national salvation government with the participation of as many parties as possible after Syriza, the second-biggest party, rejected participating.

"We have clarified that we will stick to our commitments while negotiating to improve terms and add policies for growth," Mr Samaras said in Athens today after meeting Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras. "I will continue my efforts for a government after Mr Tsipras made clear he would not participate in the government."

The centre-right New Democracy party's win in yesterday's election has eased fears of a sudden Greek exit from the euro.

This morning, president Carolos Papoulias gave a formal mandate for negotiations to Mr Samaras. "The country cannot remain ungoverned for even an hour," Mr Papoulias said.

Mr Samaras called for "national understanding" on a new government and 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 yesterday's vote, opening the path for a coalition with the third placed Socialist party Pasok, which has 33. Pasok officials said that a meeting today would decide how they would support Mr Samaras - by participating fully in government, or by voting with the coalition in parliament.

The left-wing Syriza party came second with 71 seats. It has ruled out joining a coalition, saying the harsh conditions for the EU-IMF bailout deal signed in March should be scrapped altogether.

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

Markets turned negative today as fresh worries over debt problems at Spain and Italy wiped out initial relief from a victory for pro-bailout parties in Greece that had sparked an earlier rally on the equities markets. The euro also fell 0.1 per cent to $1.2629, after initially strengthening by as much as 0.9 per cent to $1.2748 after the result of the vote was announced.

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