New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said he failed to forge agreement to form a new Greek government after elections that raised questions about the country’s euro membership and triggered the biggest stock-market drop in six months.
“I tried to form a coalition government with two goals: that the country remain in the euro and bailout policies change to include growth measures,” Samaras said in statement televised on state-run NET TV Monday. “I did what I could to get a result but it was not possible. As such, I have informed the president of the republic and handed back the mandate.”
Samaras gave up his bid after nearly six hours of talks in Athens. The attempt to form a government will now pass to Alexis Tsipras, the head of Syriza, the second biggest party, which has vowed to cancel the bailout terms. Tsipras will see President Karolos Papoulias tomorrow at 2 p.m. Athens time.
Samaras was given three days from today to put together a coalition from an assembly split down the middle on whether to renege on the terms of bailout agreements negotiated since May 2010. New Democracy and the socialist Pasok party, rivals until the country’s crisis made them partners in a national government last year, are two seats short of the 151 seats needed for a parliamentary majority.
New Democracy led in the election, receiving 19 percent of the vote and 108 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. Syriza got 17 percent to score 52 seats; Pasok came third with 13 percent and 41 seats.
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