Greece’s left-wing coalition leader has ruled out austerity measures, receiving a mandate to form a new government as elections produced a stalemate in parliament.
Greece’s leader of the leftist SYRIZA coalition, Alexis Tsipras, has ruled out budget-cutting austerity measures, opting to meet President Karolos Papaoulias in talks to form a new government on Tuesday.
“The politics of austerity was rejected by the majority of Greece’s people, and is being rejected by all European peoples,” says Tsipras, calling for an end to the “plunder” of salaries and pensions.
Referring to the EU-IMF bailout plan, Tsipras said that “we asked for a mandate to form a coalition government of left-wing forces in order to disengage ourselves from the memorandum of bankruptcy.”
This comes as Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras has failed in talks to form a unity government after being shunned by anti-austerity parties that made strong gains in Sunday’s parliamentary election.
President Papoulia had given Samaras a three-day mandate to put together a coalition after his New Democracy party received the largest share of the vote in the election.
The task of forming a government will now pass to Tsipras, whose party won the second highest number of votes.
Greek voters, angry about the high unemployment rate and severe cuts to pension and pay, punished the pro-austerity parties, New Democracy and socialist PASOK, for imposing harsh austerity measures to address the country’s debt crisis.
The outcome of the Greek parliamentary election combined with the electoral defeat of the ruling party in France has caused alarm among EU leaders.
European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said Brussels expects the future government of Greece to respect Greece’s prior agreements with the EU and the IMF.
Greece is the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis. One in five workers is unemployed and banks are in a shaky situation, while pensions and salaries have been slashed by up to 40 percent.
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