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Crucial weekend for Greece as coalition talks flounder

Crucial weekend for Greece as coalition talks flounder
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Attempts to put together a coalition government in Greece suffered another blow after the leader of a popular leftist party refused to join forces with the Socialist PASOK party.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos failed to convince Alexis Tsipras, whose party Syriza gained popularity and came second in the election with its anti-bailout stance.

Venizelos appeared to be frustrated that negotiations had not gone well.

“What’s going to change if we have new elections? Nothing. The time of truth for all (the political parties) has come. On Saturday at noon, I’m going to speak with the President. I hope, at that point, under the presidency of Karolos Papoulias, everyone can think more maturely and responsibly,” he said.

Even before news that negotiations had failed, the markets reacted badly to the unsettled situation and continuing uncertainty. The stock exchange in Athens hit its lowest level in 20 years, with the euro also sinking to its lowest point since January.

“We will have a coalition government emerging, otherwise I fear that if we go to a second election, either on the 10th or 17th of June, there will be a government in place, but maybe the country will be destroyed by then,” said President of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry Constantine Michalos.

Both main parties, the Conservatives and Socialists, were punished in last Sunday’s election when they each lost support from an electorate angry about the bailout deal and austerity measures.

There is only one chance to form a government left before elections will have to be recalled.