Conservative parties in Greece say they are set to form a pro-bailout coalition government with moderate Socialists, Press TV reports. A senior official from conservative New Democracy said late on Monday that the agreement is expected soon on a new cabinet with the PASOK socialists and maybe another smaller center-left party, Reuters reported. "We are going to clinch a deal tomorrow, we will form a government," the official said, asking not to be named. "PASOK will participate more than symbolically ... They will participate actively." Meanwhile, Panagiotis Pikramenos, Greece's caretaker prime minister, handed in his resignation ahead of the meeting of Greek President Karolos Papoulias and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, during which the leader of the New Democracy party was given the mandate to seek coalition partners. On Monday, Samaras began urgent talks to form a unity government, saying he wants to forge a "national consensus". He has three days to reach an agreement, and if he fails, the second party is given another three days to try. Samaras met the leaders of the other two largest parties, but no deal on a coalition has yet been announced.
Samaras met the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, on Monday. However, Tsipras said Syriza would remain in opposition and challenge the government, as his party had "different priorities".Panos Skourletis, the spokesman for the Syriza party, told Press TV that, “Even if the next government ignores the political message of the electoral result, it will find itself in a very difficult situation in the same stance for Europe, too.” Meanwhile, leader of the Democratic Left party Fotis Kouvelis said his party is prepared to partake in a 'national salvation government', as Samaras calls it. On Sunday, New Democracy narrowly won the country's parliamentary elections by securing 29.7 percent of the vote, the Greek Interior Ministry said. The anti-bailout radical leftist SYRIZA party garnered 26.9 percent of the ballots to come in second in the Sunday elections. The results showed that New Democracy secured 129 of the parliament seats while SYRIZA and PASOK won 71 and 33 seats respectively. Samaras, described his party's win as a ‘victory for all of Europe.’
New Democracy can form a majority coalition with its traditional partner, the socialist PASOK. Both parties want to keep Greece in the eurozone.A coalition would have to have a minimum of 151 seats combined in order to form a government. Greece has been in recession for five years, with the economy having shrunk by 15 percent over the past three years, the longest-running slump in modern times. The country is seeing bank deposits dwindle, and tax collection remains a problem. It is also unable to devalue its currency and has no industries other than tourism and agriculture exports. GJH/YH/HJL