On Wednesday Greece managed to agree in principle to form a conservative coalition government, with three pro-bailout parties agreeing to cooperate and giving the coalition a majority of 179 seats in Parliament.
Reuters reported that Evangelos Venizelos, head of the Socialist PASOK party, made the announcement and said that cabinet members would be chosen by evening. The coalition formed by PASOK, New Democracy—headed by Antonis Samaras, and which won the election by a narrow majority—and the Democratic Left party gives New Democracy a governing coalition, although policy platforms and cabinet memberships are still under discussion.
Venizelos also said that the key issue was the formation of a team to renegotiate Greece’s bailout of 130 billion euros ($165 billion). He was quoted saying, “Greece has a government and this is the message that the outgoing finance minister [George] Zanias will take to the Eurogroup.”
Bloomberg reported that Samaras would be sworn in as prime minister by President Karolos Papoulias. An unnamed official said that the swearing in would take place after Samaras visits Papoulias later in the day to brief him on the results of his mandate to form a government.
A BBC report quoted Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis saying, “We decided to give a vote of confidence to the government that will be formed.” He said in an AP report, “We are offering a vote of confidence, not a vote of tolerance. We will be part of the government. That means that even if we disagree on a specific draft law, we will not withdraw our support or bring down the government.”
Should the coalition fail for some reason to form a government by Thursday, second-place finisher Syriza, headed by Alexis Tsipras and firmly opposed to the bailout, will be handed the mandate instead.
The close shave Greece—and the rest of the eurozone—experienced in the narrow loss of Syriza to New Democracy has certainly shaken some willingness to compromise into eurozone officials—or at least the appearance of it. However, not all officials are equally willing to allow Athens a bit of breathing room in its present economic dilemma.
In a Reuters report, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann kept the pressure on in an interview with a German magazine, saying that the election outcome did not change the need for Greece to stick to its bailout conditions in order to continue to receive financial assistance.