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Samaras raises coalition doubts, points to second round of voting

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras has raised fresh doubts about the potential for him to form a coalition government with PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos after the May 6 elections.

In an interview with Axia newspaper, Samaras suggests that he would only agree to a unity administration on his terms, saying it would be “blackmail to impose on a party that wins the election to govern with those who have lost.”

The conservative leader expressed doubt about whether PASOK would be genuinely interested in sharing power with ND.

“What if we start together and then PASOK forces Mr Venizelos to withdraw his support?” said Samaras.

“That won’t just create a lack of governance, it will create a prolonged lack of governance and that is exactly what I want to avoid,” he added.

Samaras added that he would help beleaguered loanholders by passing a law that would limit their monthly repayments to no more than 30 percent of their income.

He also pledged not to impose any one-off taxes to raise revenues to help Greece meet its fiscal targets.

His comments came just a few hours after a Public Issue opinion poll for Kathimerini and Skai TV indicated that at this stage PASOK and ND would not gather enough support to form a government on their own.

The survey showed New Democracy had slipped to 19 percent and PASOK dropped slightly to 14.5. The two parties are likely to need at least a combined total of 36 percent, rather than the 33.5 percent they got in the Public Issue poll, to have a chance of forming a coalition.

The Public Issue poll also indicated that nine parties would secure the minimum support of 3 percent needed to enter Parliament, making for a fragmented political landscape.

Such an outcome could increase the likelihood of a second round of elections being needed unless a third party was willing to enter a coalition government. The pro-European Democratic Left could be a candidate but speaking to Skai radio on Thursday its leader, Fotis Kouvelis, said it was highly unlikely the leftists could work with New Democracy and PASOK.

“New Democracy and PASOK choose to defend the policies they have implemented, so based on our political view it is not possible for us to discuss a coalition with these two parties,” said Kouvelis, whose party garnered 12 percent in Wednesday’s survey.

“They are both a problem and we do not want to be an alibi for them. We will not take part in such a coalition government.”

The three leftist parties - Democratic Left, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) - garnered a combined total of 36 percent, slightly more than New Demcoracy and PASOK put together. But prospects for cooperation between the three are virtually non-existent.

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras suggested recently that the three leftist groups should work together so they can unite behind one candidate in single-seat constituencies but his offer was rejected. Kouvelis dismissed it as a “public relations trick”.


Thursday April 12, 2012
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