A second Greek election is looking more and more likely, with party
leaders unable to form a coalition. I reported on Tuesday that Antonis Samaras — leader of the
largest party, New Democracy — had admitted that he couldn’t put together a government and had passed on the mandate to Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza. Well, Tsipras also failed to
build a coalition, as he couldn’t convince ND and centre-left Pasok to turn against their austerity plan, and so the baton has been passed to Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos.
His hope was to convince Democratic Left — which holds 19 parliamentary seats — to join his and Samaras’s parties in a government that could continue Greece’s austerity
programme and abide by the terms of its IMF bailout. But Democratic Left’s leader Fotis Kouvelis has squashed that hope, by saying that his party ‘will not take part in a government
with New Democracy and Pasok’. He said that ‘without Syriza, a government
cannot be formed that is in harmony with the popular will’. So it looks like the Greeks will be going to be back to the polls in the next few weeks.
A poll yesterday suggested that a new election would see Tsipras’s party elevated to largest party status. It put Syriza on 28
per cent of the vote — an improvement of 11 points on their result last weekend, and eight points ahead of New Democracy. Such a result would give Syriza 128 seats in the new parliament
— more than double the number they have now — and give Tsipras a commanding position from which to form an anti-austerity government. And such a government would very likely mean
Greece’s exit from the eurozone.