Leaders of three largest parties to meet with Karolos Papoulias on Sunday after each failed to form coalition
The Greek president has summoned the leaders of the country’s three largest parties to a meeting on Sunday in a final attempt to forge a unity government and avoid another election.
President Karolos Papoulias will meet with leaders of the socialist Pasok, the centre-right New Democracy, and far-left bloc Syriza at 9am (GMT).
He will then hold talks with fringe parties including Golden Dawn, an extreme rightwing anti-immigration group.
The meeting comes after Pasok became the third party to fail to form a coalition.
Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos abandoned efforts on Friday and met the president on Saturday morning to confirm his decision.
Venizelos held talks with New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, whose party came first in the election, but could not find a third partner to give them a majority.
“I hope that during the negotiations chaired by Mr Papoulias everyone will be more mature and responsible in their thinking,” Venizelos said.
New Democracy also failed to form a coalition earlier in the week, as did Syriza, which came second in the election.
“It is as if the message of last Sunday’s election has not been heard,” said Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza, which secured an unprecedented 16.8% of the vote.
“We will not participate in a government that will enforce the policies of the memorandum,” he said, referring to the terms Athens agreed to with the foreign creditors keeping the country’s debt-stricken economy afloat.
Politicians have stepped up pressure on Greece to honour its commitment to a controversial austerity and reform programme – or leave the eurozone.
Analysts believe the president’s bid to form a unified government is unlikely to succeed because the parties are so divided over the terms of the bailout.
Resistance to Pasok and New Democracy is at an all-time high following their pummelling in last week’s election for endorsing the successive waves of austerity in the form of higher taxes, plus pay and pension cuts, in return for aid.
A fresh poll, to be held by 17 June at the latest, now looks inevitable, according to political party insiders. “The only other way out is if our creditors withhold aid,” said one. “If funds dry up and Greek civil servants don’t get their pay and pensions, maybe then people will come to their senses.”
With public opinion behind him, amid virulent opposition to the gruelling conditions demanded by creditors in return for rescue funds, Tsipras has stepped up his fiery anti-austerity rhetoric.
A poll released on Friday by Alpha TV indicated that Tsipras would see his popularity surge if new elections were held. Syriza, a coalition of leftists and greens, would probably emerge as the biggest party with 27%, it said.
For the EU and IMF, which has committed a total of €240bn (£190bn) in rescue funds to keep the country’s economy afloat, it is a nightmare scenario that policymakers did not foresee when Europe’s debt crisis erupted in Athens in December 2009.
Professor Dimitris Keridis, who teaches political science at Panteion University in Athens, said: “There is no easy way out. From the moment Greece’s mainstream party political system dissolved [in Sunday’s poll] governing the country with such a fractious parliament has become near impossible.
“Even the best-case scenario that would see a government being formed isn’t good enough. How long would it last?” he asked. “Creditors are demanding a further €11.5bn in cuts in June. Only an efficient, stable, long-term government will be able to pass such harsh measures and stop a euro exit.”