Greek socialists make 'first step' towards coalition

Greek's socialist leader said Thursday he was making progress towards assembling a coalition government, but was still well shy of the parliamentary majority that has eluded two other parties.

Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the Pasok party, won the support of the small Democratic Left (Dimar) party in negotiations to form a cabinet after Sunday's inconclusive election witnessed an anti-austerity backlash by voters in the debt-laden nation.

"We have made a first step," Venizelos said, adding there had been a "good omen" in his meeting with Dimar leader Fotis Kouvelis.

Venizelos, whose party came a distant third at the polls with 41 seats, had earlier said he wanted to create a unity government that would keep Greece in the eurozone -- an aim echoed by Kouvelis.

Venizelos, 55, has scheduled talks with his main rivals and former coalition partners, the conservative New Democracy party, for 0700 GMT on Friday.

The former finance minister acknowledged his task was "not easy".

His efforts follow consecutive post-election failures this week by the first-placed conservative New Democracy party and the runner-up, the radical leftwing Syriza which had come out strongly against the tough spending cuts.

A fresh setback would result in President Carolos Papoulias calling on parties to form an emergency coalition. If that cannot be be done by May 17, new elections for the 300-seat parliament will be called.

Voters on Sunday punished Pasok and New Democracy for having pushed through severe austerity measures in return for multi-billion-euro international loans to stave off bankruptcy and keep Greece in the eurozone.

However, many still believe repeat elections are almost certain.

"We will probably have elections in two months" even if a cabinet is formed, said Communist party leader Aleka Papariga.

The European Union is sending a strong message that Greece must honour the bailout conditions of budget cuts and deep reforms, after Venizelos and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras advocated renegotiating the deal to boost growth.

Creditors have warned that a rescue loan instalment to be paid on Thursday could be the last if Athens reneges on its reform commitments, raising questions over the future of Greece in the 17-member eurozone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday in a speech to lawmakers in Berlin that there was no "magic bullet" to resolve Europe's debt crisis.

Her comments were aimed mainly at incoming French president Francois Hollande's insistence on a growth-based model as a response to the crisis, but also at Greece, whose leaders have seized on Hollande's election last week as leverage in their demands for a renegotiation of their bailout terms.

Hollande and Merkel were to meet in Berlin on Tuesday within hours of his inauguration.

A senior EU official said Thursday that the EU-IMF bailout and austerity programme agreed with Greece is non-negotiable.

"The large and small print of the memorandum of understanding are as they are and they have been negotiated," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"I would not use the words that every comma is non-negotiable but the MOU as such is non-negotiable."

Greece was due to receive a 4.2-billion-euro loan as expected on Thursday, but a further one billion is being held back until Monday.

In London, British bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill said they had suspended betting on whether Greece will leave the eurozone.

"We have decided to take down these markets until the situation calms down a little," said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.

The Athens stock exchange kept a brave face Thursday, closing with gains of 4.19 percent.

US stocks mostly bounced back slightly after a six-day losing streak, amid hopes that the moderate Pasok socialists might be able to form a government.

Stocks started out of the gate with strong gains after the failure of the extreme leftist Syriza party to build a coalition.

Sunday's election slashed Pasok and New Democracy's combined seats in parliament from 201 to 149, including a 50-seat bonus for New Democracy for being the largest party.

The other 151 seats are held by parties that campaigned against the austerity programme, from far-left groups such as the communists and Syriza to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, which won 21 seats.

Golden Dawn's triumph in a country that suffered the ravages of Nazism has caused shock both inside and outside Greece.

On Thursday, the group's website was no longer running, with operator wordpress.com saying it had been "archived or suspended" for violating terms of service.

A journalist at the liberal Kathimerini this week said she had been threatened by a Golden Dawn site contributor after writing a critical article about the group, which has pledged to "scour" Greece of migrants.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Indonesian executions: key questions and answers
    Indonesian executions: key questions and answers

    Indonesia is set soon to execute eight foreigners convicted of drug offences, despite international outrage and desperate appeals for mercy from relatives. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would face a firing squad imminently. If the executions go ahead, the seven men and one woman will be led to a clearing on a prison island to be shot by police marksmen -- after authorities have placed a black mark on …

  • Pagasa: Drought may worsen
    Pagasa: Drought may worsen

    The drought in 12 already dry areas in the country is expected to worsen as the summer season peaks next month, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. In an advisory, PAGASA said the provinces of Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Biliran, Cavite, Cebu, Ilocos Norte, Leyte, Misamis Occidental, Pampanga, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur will continue to receive “way below” or “below normal” rainfall in May. PAGASA defines …

  • Maximum restraint for Phl troops in West Phl Sea
    Maximum restraint for Phl troops in West Phl Sea

    The military has advised its pilots conducting surveillance in the West Philippine Sea to exercise maximum restraint even if they are being bullied by Chinese troops. Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said all actions of the pilots should be consistent with the declaration of conduct signed by claimant countries. Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the Philippines should remain on moral high ground when it comes to the territorial dispute. A …

  • MMDA simulates rescue march after quake, tsunami
    MMDA simulates rescue march after quake, tsunami

    The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday led the annual rescue march from Quezon City to Manila, giving rescue volunteers a glimpse of possible scenarios if the metropolis is hit by a strong quake or is inundated by a tsunami. Cora Jimenez, MMDA general manager, said 700 volunteer rescuers walked from the Quezon City memorial circle to the Bonifacio monument in front of the Manila city hall to simulate a response-exercise to a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. Renato Solidum, …

  • Islamic State threatens Mindanao, Phl tells Asean
    Islamic State threatens Mindanao, Phl tells Asean

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario bared yesterday before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reports of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threat to the Philippines through the Black Flag Movement in Mindanao. Speaking before ASEAN foreign ministers, Del Rosario said the ISIS threat to Philippine security is real rather than imagined because of the Black Flag Movement’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. …

  • ‘Chinese reclamation affecting Phl’s energy security bid’
    ‘Chinese reclamation affecting Phl’s energy security bid’

    China’s occupation and buildup of its military structures in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea is causing the country’s top energy official to get the jitters as the encroachment is seen as a huge dent on the Philippines’ efforts to achieve energy security. “It is a concern but if we don’t bring it to the United Nations, where will we bring it? We cannot bang heads with them,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla told The STAR in an interview over the weekend. The US Energy …

  • Phl to Asean: China getting de facto control
    Phl to Asean: China getting de facto control

    The Philippines yesterday urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to unite and stop China’s massive reclamation in disputed waters as it will give China “de facto control” over the area and cause $100 million in marine wealth losses annually. At the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting here, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told his counterparts that the situation in West Philippine Sea had worsened just a year after the Philippines began to draw international …

  • Gov’t spends P11.8 M for Noy’s Asean trip
    Gov’t spends P11.8 M for Noy’s Asean trip

    The government has allotted about P11.8 million for President Aquino’s attendance at the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia from April 26 to 28. “President Aquino’s participation to the 26th ASEAN Summit is important as the region gears toward the creation of an ASEAN community, which is envisioned to provide new opportunities for the peoples of this region, including the Philippines,” Ochoa said in a statement. He was with …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options