12 May 2012

Greek president’s final bid for calm

The Greek president is to meet with party leaders in a last-ditch effort for unity that would stave off political turmoil and revive the country’s prospects for staying in the Euro.

Greek president Karolos Papoulias will meet leaders in an attempt for political unity over the Euro (Reuters)

President Karolos Papoulias will attempt to press all political leaders to form a coalition after talks between the leaders ended in deadlock on Friday night.

The leaders had met in an attempt to form a “national unity administration” in the wake of elections last weekend which failed to produce a conclusive winner.

But the talks failed after radical leftist, Alexis Tsipras, whose coalition, Syriza, refused to accept the harsh austerity measures required by the 130bn Euro bailout package – bringing closer the prospect of fresh elections which polls suggest he may win.

He has said the bailout deal must be ripped up and that he was elected on the basis that he would oppose austerity, although he wants Greece to remain in the Euro. The coalition emerged as a surprise runner-up in the latest elections with 16.8 per cent of the vote.

“It is as if the message of last Sunday’s election has not been heard,” he said. “We will not participate in a government that will enforce the policies of the memorandum.”

Bankruptcy fears

The country risks bankruptcy in weeks without aid from the EU and the IMF. This would potentially mean it could be ejected from the Eurozone.

Socialist leader, Evangelos Venizelos, has said that he will urge the president to pressure Mr Tsipras into accepting an “ecumenical government” to avoid the need to call fresh elections for June.

“I put this forth to Mr Tsipras,” he said. “I haven’t received a positive response. I believe that is where [President Papoulias’] efforts should be focused during the consultations.”

President Papoulias will neet the leaders of the country’s three biggest parties – Pasok, the centre-right New Democracy and Syriza – on Sunday morning.

After that, he will hold individual meetings with the leaders of smaller parties including Golden Dawn, an extreme right-wing anti-immigration group.

But many believe that it is unlikely he will succeed in bringing unity as the parties are so divided over the bailout.

Prospects for a new election have caused havoc in financial markets in Greece and across Europe, with the Euro sinking to its lowest point since January, at near $1.29.