Greece’s last-ditch efforts to create a government following the fragmented result of the May 6 elections is due to continue on Tuesday after President Karolos Papoulias proposed on Monday that parties discuss the possibility of supporting an administration of “personalities,” or technocrats and respected political figures with broad appeal.
Papoulias put forward his proposal during Monday night’s talks with New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos and the head of Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis. The three leaders were called in after discussions to form a unity government on Sunday failed as a result of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) declining a role in the administration.
SYRIZA, which opposes the European Union and International Monetary Fund loan deal, said it was not satisfied that a four-party government would be committed to ending the austerity policies imposed in Greece since 2010.
Although ND, PASOK and Democratic Left have 168 seats in Parliament, there is a feeling that SYRIZA’s support would be needed for greater political legitimacy. It emerged that during the talks between Samaras, Venizelos and Kouvelis last night, the idea of just the three parties forming a government was set aside in favor of Papoulias’s suggestion that as many political groups as possible support a so-called “government of personalities.”
As a result, a new meeting between all the leaders of parties that entered Parliament following the May 6 elections, apart from the far-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), has been called for 2 p.m. today. It has been reported that the leader of the nationalist Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos, will meet with the president a little earlier after Samaras asked Papoulias to look into whether there was a possibility of his party joining a unity government, thereby negating the need for an administration of technocrats to be formed.
There was a mixed reaction from the three leaders who took part in yesterday’s talks to the idea of a technocrat-led government but all agreed that such an administration would need broad support.
“The effort to form a government is continuing,” said Samaras. “It needs to have the broadest possible support. It is not so important who the personalities are but which parties support the government.”
“Under normal circumstances, governments of technocrats or personalities are not formed,” said Venizelos. “But when we are faced with such a crisis, such a deadlock, parliamentary support for such a government must be as broad as possible.”
Democratic Left leader Kouvelis was the least enthusiastic about the prospect of such a government being formed, insisting that an administration made up of as many parties as possible was a better option. “This is a defeat for politics,” he said.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is expected to take part in Tuesday’s meeting after choosing not to attend the talks on Monday. Speaking to the Athens-Macedonia News Agency, Tsipras said that he plans to build on his party’s success in the May 6 polls, when it more than tripled its vote from the previous elections.
“Today’s SYRIZA bears no relation to the SYRIZA of May 5,” said Tsipras. A survey by Public Issue for Kathimerini indicated that about half of the 16.8 percent of voters who backed SYRIZA just over a week ago had voted for New Democracy or PASOK in the 2009 elections. Tsipras said that he wanted to keep hold of these voters in the next elections and broaden its appeal. He said the structure of the party would change and that SYRIZA would take the necessary legal steps to ensure it would be able to profit from the 50-seat bonus given the leading party in elections. As a coalition, SYRIZA does not currently qualify for the bonus. The party, however, remains committed to changing the electoral system from one of reinforced proportionality to proportional representation.Ekathimerini.com