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Greek leaders struggle to seal deal on unity government

Reuters/John Kolesidis

Greece’s opposition leader Antonis Samaras says Prime Minister George Papandreou must resign before any deal on a unity government is agreed. 


“As long as Papandreou has not decided what he wants to do, it is blocking any solution,” explained the head of the centre-right opposition New Democracy party. “If he resigns, everything will follow its course.

Papandreou has already said he will step down, but not until the two main parties agree on a national unity administration.

Talks on a unity government have also been hampered by the issue of elections. Samaras wants a snap poll while Papandreou says this would be disastrous for the country.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

While the politicians continue to squabble, there are signs Greeks are becoming increasing exasperated at their leaders.

Sunday’s edition of the Kathimerini sharply criticised the politicians with the headline on its front page screaming “Haggling on the Titanic”. The paper warns that they only have until Monday to form a new government to avoid bankruptcy and a return of the drachma.

Sunday’s cabinet discussion comes a day ahead of a meeting of eurozone ministers which will decide whether the conditions are in place to release an eight-billion euro slice of bailout cash which Greece needs before 15 December.

Pressure on the politicians was increased on Saturday, when a government spokesman announced that Athens only had seven weeks to put the terms of the EU rescue package in place.

“According to the non-negotiable timetable of the European Summit (where the plan was decided), the new agreement needs to be ratified in parliament by the end of 2011,” said spokesman Ilias Mossialos. “We have only seven weeks and we can’t lose a single day.”

Sunday’s talks come at the end of a difficult week for the eurozone. A shock announcement by Papandreou to hold a referendum on the bail out plan, stunned fellow European leaders and sent global financial markets tumbling.

He later did a U-turn on the proposal and went on to win a vote of confidence early Saturday.


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