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March 31, 2023

Greek parties in last-ditch talks

Greek President Karolos Papoulias has begun talks on Sunday with the heads of the three main parties, in a last attempt to form a coalition and avert another election, the BBC informs. All three – conservative New Democracy, far-left Syriza and socialist Pasok – have failed in bids to form coalitions. Voters deserted New Democracy and Pasok at last Sunday’s polls, amid anger over tough austerity measures imposed as part of an IMF-EU bailout deal. Polls suggest the popularity of anti-bailout Syriza continues to grow.The inability to form an administration since last Sunday’s election has seen the Athens stock market fall to its lowest level in 20 years and the euro down to its lowest point since January. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras and Pasok’s Evangelos Venizelos arrived to meet the president at noon local time on Sunday. None of the three leaders managed to cobble together a coalition that creates a majority in Greece’s 300-seat parliament. The stumbling block appears to have been Syriza’s insistence that any new government must cancel austerity measures agreed in return for EU-IMF loans worth 130bn euros. European leaders are now openly talking about the possibility of Greece leaving the eurozone, linking the release of bailout cash to Athens’ commitment to austerity. “If a member of a club, I am not now speaking about a specific country but if a member of a club does not respect the rules of the club, it’s better not to remain in the club that is for any organization, any institution, in general any project” said Saturday European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

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