NEWS

Samaras begins efforts to form coalition government [Update]

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras began the process of trying to form a coalition government on Monday after his party won Sunday?s elections, albeit without a clear majority, though his first foray, with SYRIZA, was shot down.

With almost all the votes counted, support for New Democracy stood at 29.66 percent, compared to 26.89 for SYRIZA. PASOK was third with 12.28 percent, followed by Independent Greeks on 7.51, Golden Dawn on 6.92, Democratic Left on 6.26 and the Communist Party on 4.5 percent.

Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), the Ecologist Greens and the liberal alliance between Dimiourgia Xana (Recreate Greece) and Drasi all fell well short of the 3 percent threshold needed for them to enter Parliament.

In terms of seats in the House, this share of the votes translates into 129 for New Democracy, 71 for SYRIZA, 33 for PASOK, 20 for Independent Greeks, 18 for Golden Dawn, 17 for Democratic Left and 12 for the Communist Party.

Samaras was called by President Karolos Papoulias on Monday afternoon to receive the mandate to form a government. He will have three days to do so.

Samaras first met with Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) chief Alexis Tsipras, who turned down joining a coalition, saying his party must «be in opposition as we represent opposite camps.» The 37-year-old leftist called on Samaras not to waste time in forming a government, to make good on his pledge to renegotiate the memorandum and not to cut salaries and pensions further as this would be ‘disastrous’ for the country.

Samaras is next due to meet with PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, as well as with the leader of the Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, in an effort to form as broad an alliance as possible.

Democratic Left?s central committee is due to meet at 5.30 p.m. on Monday to discuss what the party?s position will be.

New Democracy MP Yiannis Tragakis told Skai TV that he was confident that a ND-PASOK-Democratic Left government, which would have 179 seats, would be formed this week.

Caretaker Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos and his cabinet will remain in place until a government is formed.