Coalition hopes suffer damage

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos struck out Sunday at the parties to his left and right as the possibility of a harmonious coalition after the May 6 elections seems increasingly distant.

A Public Issue opinion poll on Friday indicated that nine parties would make it into Parliament, with no group being the clear winner. This fragmentation was underlined Sunday by the confirmation from the Supreme Court that 36 parties had submitted applications to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Speaking in Kozani, northern Greece, Venizelos, whose party is trailing New Democracy in the polls, expressed frustration that both the conservatives and the leftist groups seemed opposed to the idea of cooperating to form a government. Venizelos has essentially conceded that PASOK cannot win an outright majority at the ballot box but is still hoping that the Socialists can win more votes than ND.

Samaras insists his party can still get more than 150 seats in Parliament to form a government on his own. He has suggested that if this does not happen, a second round of elections will have to be held.

?Mr Samaras is trapped in the logic of a one-party government and of him becoming prime minister, a role that he believes he is owed by history and the nation,? said Venizelos. ?Everybody can see that this is an obsession.?

The PASOK leader, however, also criticized the leftist parties. He accused the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) of flip-flopping on the issue of whether Greece should remain in the euro or return to the drachma. He was also critical of the Democratic Left, which several outcast PASOK MPs have joined. Venizelos said he was ?taken aback? by party leader Fotis Kouvelis saying that he had no intention of cooperating with ND or PASOK to form a coalition government. Venizelos said that holding a second round of elections would not solve anything.

Potential coalition partners for ND and PASOK are proving hard to come by but the head of the liberal party Drasi, Stefanos Manos, told Sunday?s Kathimerini he would be willing to cooperate. ?If our participation is needed, we will help without any reservations,? he said. ?I hope that after the elections, everyone will accept we have to find a way to work together so Greece does not collapse.? Drasi polled 2.5 percent last week, just short of the threshold for entering Parliament.