NEWS

Greek parties try to wrap up talks on coalition government

Greek political leaders are continuing discussions ahead of the formation of a coalition government on Wednesday, although the final lineup of the cabinet may not be known until Thursday.

Talks between officials representing New Democracy, which won Sunday?s elections, PASOK and Democratic Left broke off on Tuesday evening but resumed on Wednesday with a view to drawing up a policy framework for the new administration.

In the meantime, the leaders of the three parties were also holding talks aimed more at deciding who would be in the cabinet. The president of National Bank, Vassilis Rapanos, has emerged as the frontrunner for the position of finance minister.

PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos met with his party?s 33 MPs in the morning and convinced them that the Socialists should not provide any frontline figures for government roles.

Venizelos suggested that PASOK would recommend that figures such as caretaker Development Minister Yannis Stournaras and former Interior Minister Tasos Giannitsis to be part of the cabinet.

The PASOK leader?s stance did not meet with total approval. Former Health Minister Andreas Loverdos was reportedly strongly in favor of PASOK taking a more active role in the government.

The central committee of Democratic Left approved in the early hours of Wednesday a proposal for the leftists to support the new administration but not provide any members for its cabinet.

The meeting ended at 1.30 a.m. after 70 percent of members approved party leader Fotis Kouvelis?s proposal that Democratic Left remain out of the cabinet. The party may ask for some figures who are ideologically aligned with Democratic Left, although not members, to join the government.

The leftists may also ask for some of the members of the caretaker administration, such as Interior Minister Antonis Manitakis and Labor Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, to stay on.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is to be joined by Venizelos and Kouvelis in a meeting with President Papoulias on Wednesday afternoon once the details of their cooperation have been sealed.