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July 3, 2022
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Antonis Samaras begins Greece ‘national coalition’ talks

EU leaders hailed the vote, with eurozone finance ministers praising results.

The leader of the New Democracy that narrowly won Greece’s election has begun talks to form a coalition, saying he wants to forge a “national consensus”. With almost all ballots counted, New Democracy has 29.7 percent of the vote (129 seats), Syriza 26. percent (71) and Pasok 12.3 percent (33). Sunday’s results were substantially similar to the results of the vote in May, which left no party able to cobble together a working majority government.In a brief address following Sunday’s vote, Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy party pledged to form a slate “determined to do what it takes and do it fast”, according to CNN. Samaras met yesterday President Karolos Papoulias to be given a formal mandate. “Today the Greek people expressed their will to stay anchored within the euro, remain an integral part of the eurozone, honor the country’s commitments and foster growth. This is a victory for all Europe,” Samaras said. “I call on all parties that share those objectives to form a stable new government.” The second-place Syriza party has rejected the terms of the bailout and said it would form the opposition. Samaras said as he met the president: “A national understanding by everybody is imperative.” Under the constitution, Papoulias has given Samaras three days to form a government. Samaras said he believed he could form a working coalition.Papoulias said there was “a categorical imperative to form the government” immediately. Samaras will meet the leader of the socialist Pasok party, Evangelos Venizelos, this afternoon.The New Democracy and Pasok should be able to form a majority coalition, but Samaras is expected to try for a broader grouping, hoping to create a stable government with a stronger popular mandate. There are 300 seats in parliament and Greece has a rule that gives the leading party 50 extra seats. However, correspondents point out that only 40% of voters backed parties that broadly support the bailout deal with the EU and the IMF. “Today the Greek people expressed their will to stay anchored within the euro, remain an integral part of the eurozone, honor the country’s commitments and foster growth. This is a victory for all Europe,” Samaras said. “I call on all parties that share those objectives to form a stable new government.” Markets appeared poised to react positively to news of the vote, as Japanese stocks climbed. The Nikkei rose 1.7 percent in early trading Monday.Samaras has said his party wants to remain in the eurozone and alter existing policies, including stringent austerity measures, to “achieve development and offer people relief.” His leading rival, Alexis Tsipras of the left-wing, anti-bailout Syriza, had called for the deal to be torn up. Samaras “has the opportunity to form a government on the basis of the people’s verdict and on the basis of his own program,” Tsipras said. But he said Syriza – which was projected to win 71 seats – would continue to demand “from the position of the opposition” that the bailouts be scrapped. European Union leaders hailed the vote, with eurozone finance ministers praising results “which should allow for the formation of a government that will carry the support of the electorate to bring Greece back on a path of sustainable growth.”European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman van Rompuy said in a joint statement that they “support the continued efforts of Greece to put its economy on a sustainable path.”“Today, we salute the courage and resilience of the Greek citizens, fully aware of the sacrifices which are demanded from them to redress the Greek economy and build new, sustainable growth for the country,” the EU leaders said.

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